Ancient Hellenic Calendar
The ancient Hellenic lunar months would start on
the new moon and a new day would start at sunset.
The new year would start on the new moon before
the Autumn Equinox. Except for Athens which
used the new moon following the summer solstice.
I use the Autumn Equinox and the lunar month of
Boedromion for my calculations for the new year.
If the Summer Solstice is used then the lunar
month of Hekatombaion would start the year.
This will explains why you may see the start
of some calendars with Hekatombaion instead
In a year with thirteen new moons, the thirteenth
lunar month of Poseideon II was inserted between
the fourth lunar month of Poseideon and the fifth
lunar month of Gamelion which will be around
It is difficult to determine if the festivals were
held in the month of Poseideon or Poseideon II
when the extra month had to be added. Or perhaps
this was reason enough to celebrate twice.
A different Goddess/God was honored for the full moon
of each month and rituals dedicated to the
Goddess/God were held to honor them on the full moon.
The 1st of the lunar month is celebrated as the Noumenia,
the feast of the Visible New Moon. This is also
sometimes called the Enikainea, the "Old and New."
The 15th of the lunar month is celebrated as the
Dikhomenia (from the ancestor of the modern word
dikhiazo "I bisect, I divide"), which occurs on
or very close to the full moon. This day is
sacred to Selene, the goddess of the full moon.
The 2nd is sacred to the Agathos Daimon, the "Good Spirit"
(roughly equivalent to a combination of the Will and
the guardian angel of each person).
The 3rd is sacred to Athena.
The 4th is sacred to Aphrodite and to Hermes
(and sometimes also to Herakles),
The 6th is sacred to Artemis.
The 7th is sacred to Apollo.
The 8th is sacred to Poseidon and sometimes also to Theseus,
particularly in Athens.
The last day of the month is sacred to Hekate.
Click on the following month to find out more about the Festivals.
months: Goddess/God honored:
1-Boedromion Hestia (Vesta), the Goddess of the hearth.
2-Pyanepsion Ares (Mars), God of war.
3-Maimakterion Artemis (Diana), Goddess of the Moon, Sacred Huntress.
4-Poseideon Hephestus (Vulcan), God of fire, smithing and artifice.
5-Gamelion Hera, Goddess of marriage and birth.
6-Anthesterion Poseidon, God of the sea.
7-Elaphebolion Athena (Minerva), Goddess of wisdom and Athens.
8-Mounykhion Aphrodite (Venus), Goddess of beauty, love, and spring.
9-Thargelion Apollon, God of music.
10-Skirophorion Hermes, God of of merchants, and messenger of Zeus.
11-Hekatombaion Zeus (Jupiter), God of Heaven, Earth, Olympian Gods.
12-Metageitnion Dimitra (Demeter) Goddess of fertility, earth and grain
13-Poseideon II Hephestus (Vulcan), God of fire, smithing and artifice.
1) The Ancient Hellenic first lunar month Boedromion
Ancient Hellenic New Year
The Ancient Hellenic first lunar month, and start of the new year
is Boedromion and the full moon is dedicated to
Hestia (Vesta), the Goddess of the hearth.
The Boedromia Festival was held on the 7th in honor of Apollo.
Other Festivals were: Day 2 was the Niketeria festival in honor
of Nike; Day 4 there was a 'sacrifice by the Attikos deme Erkhia
to Basile' in honor of Basile in Erchia. The sacrifice was without
wine and may have been connected with the festival of Genesia on
day 5 in honor of the dead; Day 6 in honor of the birthday of
Artemis Agrotera was the Kharisteria; Demokratia, a festival
in honour of democracy, established after the restoration of
democracy in Athenai in 403 BCE following the rule of the
Thirty Tyrants probably took place on the 12th day; preparatory
for the Great Mysteries of Eleusis (in honor of Demeter)
were the 13th and 14th and the Great Mysteries of Eleusis
were from the 15th to the 21st;
The Great Mysteries of Eleusis consisted of the following:
15th day was Agyrmos (Gathering).
16th day was "Seaward, Initiates".
17th day was "Hither the Victims".
18th day was Epidauria.
19th day was March to Eleusis.
20th day was Initiation.
21th day was Plemokhoai.
On the 27th day was the 'Sacrifice to Athene at Atic deme of Teithras' and
also a 'Sacrifice to the Nymphs, Achelous, Alochus, Hermes & Gaia at Erchia'.
2)Ancient Hellenic second lunar month Pyanepsion
The Ancient Hellenic second lunar month from is
Pyanepsion and the full is dedicated to Aris (Mars), the God of war and sports.
There were many festivals during the month of Pyanepsion. The Apatyria is
3 or 4 consecutive days and each Phratria (Clan) determines when its Apatyria
("Feast of the Common Fatherhood") will be held; Proerosia(things before the
time of tillage) on the 5th is a festival for Demeter's blessings in preparation
for the ploughing and sowing at the beginning of the agricultural season.
The Pyanepsia (boil beans) is on the 7th held in honor of Pythian Apollo/Phoebos
Apollo/Helios(Sun)/Horai(Hours) and is a festival of late autumn fruit
gathering that seeks divine blessings for the autumn sowing; Apollo is
honored in Delphi in summer. Also on the 7th is the Oskhophoria, a vintage
and wine-pressing festival, in thanks to Dionysos; Dionysos is honored in
Delphi in winter. Theseia, the son of Poseidon, is honored on the 8th;
the Stenia on the 9th, is a nocturnal women's festival for Demeter and
Persephone in preparation for the Thesmophoria which is from the 11th
to the 13th. The Khalkeia on the 29th honors Athena.
3)Ancient Hellenic third lunar month Maimakterion
The Ancient Hellenic third lunar month
is Maimakterion, named after the festival of Maimakteria,
dedicated to Zeus as God of weather, wind, and storm.
The full moon is dedicated to Artemis (Diana),
Goddess of the Moon, Sacred Huntress, Queen of the Amazons.
The winter comes with the beginning of the month of Maimakterion
and there are two fesivals held sometime in the month.
The Maimakteria fesival is when prayers are addressed to Zeus Maimaktes
(Blustering) that He may be kind to people, crops and houses;
And the Pompaia festival in honor of Zeus and Hermes is a purification
and propitiation procession where priests carry the Dion Kodion
(Sacred Fleece), the skin of a sheep sacrificed to Zeus Meilikhios
along with the staff of Hermes to avert malice at the onset of winter.
4)Ancient Hellenic fourth lunar month Poseideon
The Ancient Hellenic fourth lunar month from is
Poseideon and the full moon is dedicated to Hephestus (Vulcan),
the god of fire, smithing and artifice, who Made the thunderbolts For Zeus.
In the month of Poseideon
there was a festival held to honor Poseidon on the 8th; The Country Dionysia
festival was held sometime during the period from the 15th to the 29th
(determined by each farm) and the Haloa was held on the 26th in honor of
Demeter and Dionysos.
5)Ancient Hellenic fifth lunar month Gamelion
The Ancient Hellenic fifth lunar month is
Gamelion and called the "Month of Marriage",
the full moon is dedicated to Hera,
the Goddess of marriage and birth.
On the 8th would be the Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes,
& the Nymphs at Erchia; on the 9th the Sacrifice to Athene at Erchia. The Lenaia
festival, named for the Lenai who are Maenads, would be celebrated from the 12th
to the 15th in honor of Dionysos. The Gamelia (Theogamia) festival which is a
celebration of the Hieros Gamos (Sacred Marriage) of Zeus and Heraon (Hera) is
on the 26th day. On the 27th the Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus
Teleius & Poseidon at Erchia.
6)Ancient Hellenic Sixth Lunar month Anthesterion
The Ancient Hellenic Sixth Lunar month is
Anthesterion, named after the Anthesteria, a festival of Dionysos,
and considered the first month of spring, most things bloom (anthein)
from the earth at that time;
the full moon is dedicated to Poseidon, the God of the sea.
The Hellenic Anthesteria festival, in honor of Dionysos, Hermes & Hekate, would
start on the 11th of Anthesterion. It is a Festival of Flowers, Celebration of
the New Wine Vintage, recognition of ancestors with a Feast of the Dead, and a
Drinking Festival centered around Dionysus Limnaios ("of the marshes").
On the 11th, the Pithoigia, was the 'Opening of the Jars'. The 12th was Khoes,
the 'Pitcher Feast', a day for drinking parties, both public and private.
Starting at sunset on the 13th was the celebration of the Hieros Gamos
(Sacred Marriage) of Dionysos with the Basilinna (Queen), Dionysos represented
by the Arkhon Basileus. Also on the 13th was Khutroi, the 'Day of Pots'
devoted to the cult of the dead; pots containing mixed vegetables were offered
to Hermes Psukhopompos; spirits of the dead roamed free. The Lesser Mysteries
in preparation for the Eleusinian Mysteries, at deme of Agrae in Athens would
start on the 20th.
And on the 29th, the Diasia festival in honor of Zeus Meilichios.
7)Ancient Hellenic seventh lunar month Elaphebolion
The Ancient Hellenic seventh lunar month is
Elaphebolion and the Full Moon is dedicated to
Athena (Minerva), the Goddess of war and wisdom.
The Elaphebolia festival on the 6th (and month) is named for
Artemis Elaphebolos (Deer-shooting), that is, the Goddess as huntress;
the sixth day is always Hers. She is offered elaphoi (stags),
which are stag-shaped cakes made from dough, honey and sesame-seeds.
The City Dionysia festival is from the 9th to the 13th.
A principal characteristic of the City Dionysia, as opposed perhaps to
the Rural Dionysia, is the presence of dramatic contests.
On the first day, costumed choruses of men and boys
sing dithyrambs (odes to Dionysos), on the second day there are
comedies (such as Aristophanes'), and on the third to fifth days
there are trilogies of tragedies (such as Aiskhylos's).
8)Ancient Hellenic eighth lunar month Mounykhion
The Ancient Hellenic eighth lunar month is
Mounykhion and the full moon is dedicated to Aphrodite (Venus),
the Goddess of beauty, love, and spring;
There were many festivals in the month of Mounykhion.
The Mounykhia festival on the 16th day honors Artemis as
Moon Goddess and Lady of the Beasts; There is a procession
in which the people carry Amphiphontes (Shining-all-round),
round cakes in which dadia (little torches) are stuck,
much like the cakes offered to Hekate;
later these are offered to the Artemis with a prayer.
9)Ancient Hellenic ninth lunar month Thargelion
The Ancient Hellenic ninth lunar month is
Thargelion and the full moon is dedicated to
Apollon the God of music.
The Thargelia is a harvest(First-fruit Offering) festival
for Apollo (as a guardian of crops),
it has two parts, purification and offering.
The 6th is the first day of the festival.
This is the birthday of Apollos's sister, Artemis and is a day of purification.
Two (preferably unattractive) men, the Pharmakoi (Scape-Goats),
who have been fed by the people, are led around the city,
and then driven away by fig-branches and (poisonous) squill-bulbs
(used for purification). One Pharmakos wears a necklace of black figs,
which represent the men of the city, and the other wears one of
white figs, representing the women.
Then the second day, the 7th which is Apollos's birthday,
is for a first-fruits offering to the God;
the Thargelos is made by boiling corn and other vegetables in a pot.
There are separate hymn singing contests for men's and boys' choirs;
the winners receive a tripod, which they then dedicated to the God.
The Ancient Thalysia is a festival celebrated when the corn is threshed.
In many cases the time varies from farm to farm, and coincides with the
actual completion of the harvest (May or June). It also has two parts,
purification and offering.
10)Ancient Hellenic tenth month Skirophorion
The Ancient Hellenic tenth month from is
Skirophorion and the full moon is dedicated to
Hermes, the God of of merchants, and messenger of Zeus.
During the month of Skirophorion there is the Arrephoria, a festival
in honor of Athene; Arretophoria was celebrated on the 3rd day;
On the 12th is the Skirophoria festival in honor of Athene, Poseidon,
Apollon and Demeter; and on the 14th the Bouphonia festival in honor
of Zeus Poleius and Dipolieia.
Skirophoria, or the carrying of the skira, a mixture of powdered gypsum and
white flour, is a fertility festival. Priests and Priestesses from the cult
of Athena, Poseidon and Helios would lead a procession to the Skiron.
A large white canopy, would be carried over their heads to shade them from
the hot summer sun. The Skiron is a sacred place to Demeter and Kore and
other controlers of the harvest because it is where the first sowing took
place. Also as part of the festival there was a relay foot race by the
men, and a fertility festival for women only. There are also some who
say that 'On this occasion, slain piglets and models of snakes and male
genitalia made out of dough were buried in chambers in the ground to
be dug up during the Thesmophoria' festival.
11)Ancient Hellenic eleventh lunar month Hekatombaion
The Ancient Hellenic eleventh lunar month
is Hekatombaion and the full moon is dedicated to Zeus (Jupiter),
the God Heaven and Earth, and of all the Olympian Gods;
There were many ancient festivals during the month of Hekatombaion. The Aphrodisia
festival, a bathing festival of Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite of All Peoples) and
Peitho (Persuasion), on the 4th; The Kronia is a festival in honor of Kronos as
a god of the grain harvest on the 12th day; The Panathenaia, the celebration of
Athena's birthday on the 28th, for according to tradition 28 Hekatombion was
the day She burst from Zeus's head (depicted on the east pediment of the Parthenon),
though it is Her day, all the Olympians attend the festivities, this is a sacred
feast at which gods and mortals celebrate Athena's birthday together.
In very ancient times, the Kronia honored Kronos as a god of the grain harvest,
who is depicted with a reaping hook (Parke, p. 29) and marked the end of the
cereal harvest. By the Classical Era, Kronos was known mainly as the father
of Zeus. While he likely still received an offering on this day (on his altar near
the Temple of Olympian Zeus), most all practices of the day had been abandoned,
except for one very distinctive and odd one: on this day, slaves dined with
their masters. Likely, the absence of the slaves from their usual duties ensured
that very little got done that day, although that might not have been religious
or civil law. Apparently, the slaves made riotous noise during their feast and
time off, creating chaos throughout the city (Burkert, p. 231). What the
citizens of Athens did, other than enduring the turmoil, is not known.
Kronos, as the precursor of Zeus, was the ruler of the Golden Age, an idyllic time
in Greek myth (Burkert, p. 232). D.H. Killaly Barr says on his site that
“During the Kronia we are allowed a temporary return to the Golden Age, to equality,
luxury, ease and unconstrained freedom.” On this day, make a small sacrifice to Kronos,
recite Orphic Hymn 13. This is a good day to read Hesiod’s Theogony
(which can be found on the Perseus site).
Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, 1977, English version 1985
Parke, H.W., Festivals of the Athenians, 1977
12)Ancient Hellenic twelfth lunar month Metageitnion
The ancient Hellenic twelfth lunar month from
is Metageitnion and the full moon is dedicated to
Dimitra (Demeter) Goddess of fertility, earth and grain.
The Metageitnia festival is celebrated on the 7th day, and it is a small festival in
honor of Apollo in His capacity as bringer of harmony.
It is a celebration of good relations with neighbors.
From the 15th day to the 18th day is Eleusinia, a festival of games celebrated at Eleusis
(not the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries). This was held on the 4th year of every
Olympiad, and on a lesser scale on the 2nd year. The festival included a religious
procession and sacrifices, as well as the games. The winner's prize was a quantity of grain.
There is a 'Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hecate & Artemis' at Erchia on the 16th day.
On the 19thday is the 'Sacrifice to The Heroines at Attic deme of Erchia'.
The 'Sacrifice to Hera Thelchina (Thelkhinia) at Erchia' is on the 20th day.
On the 25th day is the 'Sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes at Erchia'
The festival of in honor of Herakleia at Kynosarges was also held sometime
during this month.
13)Ancient Hellenic thirteenth lunar month Poseideon II
The Ancient Hellenic thirteenth lunar month is Poseideon II.
The full moon is dedicated to Hephestus (Vulcan),
the god of fire, smithing and artifice, who Made the thunderbolts For Zeus.
It is unknown by me what Festivals were held during this thirteenth lunar month.
In the month of Poseideon there was a festival held to honor Poseidon on the 8th.
The Country Dionysia festival was held sometime during the period from the
15th to the 29th (determined by each farm). The Haloa festival was held on the
26th in honor of Demeter and Dionysos.
Sophialinus - The Drum Lioness