Monday, March 4, 2019

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Anthesteria

Anthesteria, one of the several Athenian festivals in honour of Dionysus, the wine god, held annually for three days in the month of Anthesterion (February–March) to celebrate the beginning of spring and the maturing of the wine stored at the previous vintage.

It is supposed that the custom of drinking wine during this day of the Anthesteria, with each man taking his own vessel and drinking it in silence, was based on the myth of Orestes. According to this mytn, when Orestes entered Athens after killing his mother, no one wanted to offer him their hospitality because he was polluted. But, feeling shame for him, they invited him in with a solitary hospitality, giving every diner an individual wine cup to drink from and enforcing silence throughout the dinner so as to distance themselves from Orestes. The normal custom when drinking at a dinner party would be to share wine from the host’s vessels while partaking in conversation and word games.

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