Ancient Greek Festivals

by Erin on January 13, 2012

Today, I thought I’d take a look at some of the more noteworthy festivals celebrated in ancient Greece. Please keep in mind that these descriptions are simply summaries of popular festivals. Also I’ve listed the festivals in alphabetical order, as is my habit.

As you browse through the list, you might notice that each of the festivals is associated with at least one specific Greek god or goddess.

Anthesteria | The name Anthesteria means “festival of flowers”, and it was celebrated by drinking the season’s new wine (giving it an an obvious connection to Dionysos).

Aphrodisia | As the name of this festival suggests, it was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite.

Brauronia | The Brauronia festival was dedicated to the cult of the goddess Artemis.

Dionysia | Festivals held in honor of the god Dionysos; the ancient Greeks had both Rural Dionysia and City Dionysia.

Eleusinian Mysteries | The Eleusinian Mysteries are understood to be sacred events that were connected to the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone (also known as Kore).

Olympieia | Celebrated in the Spring, this festival in honor of Zeus combined religious festivities with athletic events.

Panathenaia | Held in honor of the goddess Athena’s birthday, the Panathenaia festival was one of the most important in ancient Athens.

Theogamia | This event was held to celebrate of the “hieros gamos”, or sacred wedding, of Zeus and Hera.

Thesmophoria | The Thesmophoria was a fertility festival associated with Demeter, in which the participants were exclusively women.

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