The New Boeotian Calendar is a project I took on when my Eros cultus kept nudging me further and further into discovering and reviving the traditions of Boeotia (Viotia), a region of ancient Hellas.
ABOUT LUNISOLAR CALENDARS
Lunisolar calendars are calculated by the phases of the moon – solar calendars, such as the Gregorian (modern secular) calendar, are calculated by the earth’s rotation around the sun. Both lunar and solar calendars have to accommodate the fact that the earth’s rotation around the sun is 365¼ days – solar calendars tend to do this by adding another day every four years while lunisolar calendars tend to add another month every two or three years. Neither calendar system is absolutely perfect because the natural cycle around the sun isn’t a perfect count of whole days. Lunar calendars also differ from solar in that days tend to count as having begun at sundown of the “previous” solar calendar day, whereas solar calendars generally count “new days” by sunrise – then there’s meridian time, which counts days by AM/PM time.
Days on this lunisolar calendar begin at sundown on the previous day of the Gregorian dates, a practise that keeps in line with lunar calendars still in use, like the Hebrew calendar. It just made more sense to do it this way.
ABOUT HELLENIC FESTIVAL CALENDARS
The reconstructed Hellenic calendars available from a few Internet sources are arguably more practical than the typical Wiccan-influenced NeoPagan calendars because of the fact that they’re more urban rather than rural in nature – so few festival dates need to be “reversed” for Hellenistai in the Southern Hemisphere; Wicca-influenced calendars, on the other hand, are based on seasons, so certain festivals adopted by the Wiccan calendar, like Samhain, are best celebrated during specific seasonal phases, as per the guidelines laid out by Wicca, and so would need to be adjusted for Southern Hemisphere seasons – so in Australia and South America, Samhain would be in early May rather than late October, and Beltaine would be in October rather than May. Hellenic festivals, on the other hand, are typically based on important dates in mythology or for the polis the calendar is attached to, so very few adjustments are necessary (off the top of my head, I can think of an Attic festival that’s specifically tied to the harvest season, and by my own UPG, the Feast of Eros is a fertility festival in early spring, so it would be appropriate to adjust that for the Southern Hemisphere, as well) – like how those who celebrate Christmas (in either a religious or secular fashion) celebrate it on December 25th, no matter where in the world they live.
That said, there was no one universal Hellenic festival calendar. Different regions had different calendars, and even different cities within a region would sometimes have their own variation on the calendar. Furthermore, those who lived in rural areas would have their own seasonal calendars and often their own rituals and traditions associated with the different harvest seasons. Then there were the civic calendars used by politicians, and some sources state that if certain political events would take longer deliberations than usual, this could drag a civic month out far beyond the perimeters of the Noumenia. The Attic calendar offered by Hellenion has a festival to Apollon and another to Athene which are season-based, but since the New Boeotian calendar has taken on mainly Boeotian festivals (in the notes I have indicated which are not of Boeotian origin, but have included them because the cities they were celebrated in had allied themselves with my favourite Boeotian cities), and at this time, I know of none I have included which are historically based on seasonal cycles, but my own UPG for the Feast of Eros is that it’s a springtime fertility festival, so adjusting for the Southern Hemisphere might be appropriate. Also, the modern guesstimate for the Kharitesia is linked to the flowering of myrtle trees, so if there are myrtle imported to your part of the Southern Hemisphere, you can adjust it for that time (around the Summer Solstice).
ABOUT THE NEW BOEOTIAN CALENDAR
Most of the dates on the monthly ritual cycle are outlined by Hesiod in Works & Days, with a few exceptions: Tykhe and Ta Moirai are honoured on the fifth day of the lunar month and Ta Mousai are honoured on the ninth day of the lunar month on this calendar, but not in Works & Days. I selected these days for a reason – the number five, in traditional Hellenic folklore, is “unlucky”, which seems like an appropriate date to honour the Goddess of Fortune and the Fates, in hopes of giving one a good day; the ninth day was selected for the Muses because traditionally, their number is nine. Tykhe and Ta Mousai both had famous Boeotian cult worship, and Ta Moirai have both always been a part of my personal cult worship, but I worship Them on the same day as Tykhe, taking a nod from the Boeotian poet Pindar, who was said to have considered Tykhe one of Ta Moirai.
Festivals that are not Boeotian in origin are marked as such. Festivals from outside Boeotia are listed basically because these are the festivals that I honour for several reasons, but mainly because of connection to a particular deity to whom I pay cultus and because the nature of the festival is not one that is particular to that region (at least as best as I can tell). The reason they are included on here is because I simply couldn’t be arsed to remove them – if you wish to have a print-ready calendar without these dates, please go back to the website and leave something in my Tip Jar with a note that you would like me to e-mail you a custom calendar PDF, and please include what you would like added or removed. If you do not have ready access to a printer and would like me to mail you something via post, please e-mail me before leaving anything in my Tip Jar. (Anything left in the Tip Jar without a note, by the by, will be assumed to be left simply because you think I’m awesome.)
The following festivals may not be designated for the same dates that they were held in ancient times; as I gain more information, I will update these festivals:
- 1 Boukatios ~ Boeotian New Year – year starts here; unlike Attika, Boeotia celebrated the New Year around their Winter Solstice.
- 15-26 Boukatios ~ Dionysia – celebrated throughout much of Hellas, dates chosen because of Attic correspondence
- 26 Hermaios ~ Daidala – traditionally held either every seven or every four years (I have conflicting sources), festival in honour of the wedding of Zeus & Hera. Can’t find a specified date, so I used the date of the Attic Gamelia festival, which is also in honour of Their marriage. Due to conflicting sources, I’m making the new cycle annual until I can find information sufficient enough to reconstruct the ancient cycle.
- 7 Prostaterios ~ Theophania – A Delphic festival celebrated on the birthday of Apollo; added because of Thebes’ alliances with Delphi
- 9-13 Agrioaios ~ Agrionia – I’ve replaced the Greater / Urban Dionysia with this, as I confirmed a note I re-read on WilDivine that says this was the stand-in for the “City Dionysia” in many areas, and yes, I’ve known for years that it was pretty big in Boeotia, but I didn’t know much else, so this marks the first year I’ve included it. Basically a Dionysos festival of the Dead. Tradition of the Boeotian city of Orchomenus is most widely known for the sacrificial girl, said to be a descendant of the legendary king, Minyas, though this practise discontinued after bad omens. Similar festivals are the Attic Anthesteria and Lenaia.
- 4 Thioyios ~ Feast of Eros – Date chosen by UPG, partially confirmed; chosen to correspond with the guesstimate made by Kate Winter (see Winterscapes.com page in sources). As best as I can tell, this is a fertility festival in Eros’ honour, and I’m basing this on the time of the year, Spring.
- 6 Thioyios ~ Delphinia – celebrated in various poleis in ancient Hellas, most named cities in the southeast and central regions. mlahanas.de describes it as a “festival of the same expiatory character as the Apollonia” and describes processions of “seven girls and seven boys” carrying olive brances bound in white wool into the Delphinium temple. That’s all I got.
- Dioscuria – feast of the Doiskuroi, ostensibly celebrated throughout most of Hellas; date selected for the first day of Gemini in the Tropical (Western) Zodiac.
- 10 – 12 Homoloios ~ Hyakinthia – This Spartan festival I know very little about, concerning the dates it was held. I know it lasted three days, and was a major Spartan festival. At first, I wanted to place this at the summer solstice, then I was passed along another source link for Hellenic calendars, and it made more sense to place it in equivalent of the Spartan month of Hyakinthia/Delhinios. I have included this because of historic alliances of Sparta with both Thespiae and Thebes.
- 11 – 13 Theilouthios ~ Kharitesia – All I know of this is that it’s a Boeotian festival of poetry and music games to the Kharites. I’ve made it a three-day festival and set it at the Summer Solstice to coincide with the flowering of the myrtle trees, which are sacred to Them.
- 4 Ippodromios ~ Aphrodisia – mlahannas.de describes this festival as “In honor of Aphrodite, sacrifice of the dove (Aphrodite’s bird), Myrtle tree, sea shells and roses. Dancing and athletic games.” All major sources say this was essentially celebrated all over Hellas. Date chosen is in correspondence with the Attic calendar due to lacking any information at this time on a Boeotian date.
- 9-10 Ippodromios ~ Adonia – all I knew of this one for the longest time is that it was held in early summer, lasted more than one day, and was tied to the Attic month of Hekatonbion; when I first calculated a date, Wikipedia said “two days … tied to the ninth day of the month”. Traditionally celebrated only by women, it’s my personal UPG that this is now appropriate for Fems of all sexes.
- 7 Pamboiotios ~ Boedromia – According to sources, Apollon’s epithet “Boedromios” is of Boeotian origin, and this festival was actually widespread through ancient Hellas. Regardless, I’ve marked it as an “Attic” festival because I’ve taken the date from a reconstructed Attic calendar.
- 26 Pamboiotios ~ Pamboeotia – I was able to track down the month for this festival of Athena, but not a set date, so I took the stab at which day of the month it would have been celebrated using the Attic festival Panathenia, which seems otherwise identical, based on both primary and secondary sources.
- 11-13 Damatrios ~ Thesmophoria – a women-only festival for Demeter and Persephone (for those ladies who wish to participate, anyway); my source simply describes this as being celebrated “in various parts of Hellas”, and while I (being a dude) don’t take part in this, I figured I’d add it for the shared version of this calendar.
Monthly & Seasonal Days
- Noumenia – New Moon
- Dikhomenia – Full Moon
- Kheimon, Eiar, Theros, Phthinoporon – These are the personifications / names for the seasons; Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, respectively. I’ve placed these at the points of their respective Solstices and Equinoxes. These are marked for the Northern Hemisphere; if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you may wish to adjust for your seasons.
Not on the calendar this year
- 9-18 Panamos ~ Mouseia – Totally new cycle and likely new dates and span. The Mouseia are the every-five-years poetry and music games for Ta Mousai, who had a substantial cult in Boeotia. Next Mouseia will be in the Gregorian 2015, unless a reconstructed date can be calculated.
- 7 Damatrios ~ Daphnephoria – date for this one selected because Athenians had a very similar holiday on their corresponding calendar date; Commemorating a Theban victory over the Aeolians and Pelasgians. The festival involved a procession where one person bears an olive branch, with laurel flower and bronze balls were tied to branch. The name derived from Daphne (laurel flower) and phorein (wear). This festival is on a cycle of nine years; the next occurrence will be in 2019 CE, unless a reconstructed date can be calculated.
I would include a more in-depth description of each festival, but this is already an eighteen page document – your printer will thank you if you just go check out the links below that have festival descriptions.