When it comes to celebrating, the ancient Greeks held an assortment of festivals and important religious events on an annual basis , oftentimes, paying homage to a particular god or goddess. In this article, you will encounter some of the purposes behind major festivals and celebrations of the ancient Greco Romans.
The ancient festivals of Greece served as prominent religious gatherings that not only took place every year, but also recurred every two to four years. The rituals associated with such celebrations varied, but gods and goddesses definitely played an important role. In regards to partying, Athens is best known for its festivals and there were plenty of good times to go around for the community. Festivals in Athens were so significant that at least 60 days were reserved for annual events.
A festival of games held in Eleusis was called Eleusinia for this reason. The primary objective of this event was to serve as an initiation ceremony for a cult that worshipped Demeter and Persephone. This ancient Greek cult resided in Eleusis and centered on the myths and mysteries of their culture. Sometimes, the ceremonies were referred to as the Eleusinian Mysteries, which held a history traced back to the Mycenean period (around 1700 BC). The festival was quite popular during the Hellenic era, before ultimately finding its way to Rome.
The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs of this celebration were kept under wraps. Those who participated believed that the initiation would create a unity between the worshipper and the gods in return of promised power and gifts in the afterlife. What we know about this ceremony is learned from paintings and images depicted on pottery. Some researchers feel that psychedelic agents may have been used in conjunction with the festival, as having visions and coming close to the afterlife were characteristics of the celebration.
Greek cities also celebrated a festival called Thesmophoria, which paid homage to the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. This particular event was quite widespread, and often quite popular amongst people belonging to the cult of Demeter. The story behind this celebration involves the commemoration of the third of the year, which recognized Demeter’s decision to give up her goddess responsibilities of harvest and growth. Instead, she spent time in the region during the unforgiving summer months of Greece , a time of the year that sees dying vegetation and lack of rain. In connection to her actions, she mourned the loss of her daughter, who joined Hades in the Underworld.
Basically, Thesmophoria is a feast that gives women the chance to pay homage to their personal traditions. During this time, they leave their homes to establish some sort of shelter. Participation in the festival was only granted to the wives of Athenian citizens. Unmarried women were not allowed to join in. Men could not take part in the festival either. Instead, they were actually expected to send their wives to the event , footing the bill. Anyone who tried to spy on the goings-on were subjected to severe treatment.
While the festival promoted fertility, women prepared by abstaining from intercourse. Another ritual connected to Thesmophoria was the practice of bathing, which served as a method of purification.