I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"I've got a question, but I don't know if its appropriate... I know that when we pray, we should sing hymns to the gods beforehand. But I've got very little fantasy for these things, and it ends up being a sort of mess. Do you use hymns like the Homeric or do you make your own?"

Personally, I only use ancient hymns in my worship. Both because I am not exactly a creative light when it comes to writing poetry and because I prefer to worship the gods with the words They were worshipped with in ancient times.

"Do you know any hymns to the heroes, or should I create my own for rituals for them, or is there some other way of honouring their heroic deeds?"

There were many of hymns to the heroes in ancient times. Every city state had their own and they honoured a huge variety of heroes. Hero worship was very widespread. Unfortunately these hymns were passed on mostly by oral tradition and they have pretty much been lost to us. If you wish to honour heroes, making your own hymns is perhaps wisest, or you can use the descriptions of their deeds as recorded by the ancient mythographers.

"When sacrificing to nature spirits (nymphs for example), or when making offerings to Hestia before dinner, can I just recite an invocation and prayer to them, or do I have to do it in the standard ritual format?"

There are two types of sponde: one used as a toast--usually to Hestia and/or the Agathós Daímōn--and one as a general libation. A toast is traditionally poured on the floor, but may also be poured onto a dish to be taken out after the meal or be poured into a potted plant or measure of earth in a pot. Some people give the sponde before the meal, others after the meal, and some give both before and after the meal, as a way of thanks. You don't have to perform a full rite, just lift the cup with your right hand, say a hymn and a few words of thanks, and tip out a few drops after transferring your cup to the left hand.
"It causes me huge distress when I can't celebrate some festivals on the days they are held or in the time of day they should be carried out. This worried me because, as you wrote before, rituals to Olympic deities should be carried out in daylight. What do you think I should do in similar situations? Should I just hold the rituals the day after the festival? Please help."
Not being able to celebrate a festival on a given day is certainly frustrating and not recommended, but it is not the end of the world. Even in ancient times, these delays happened. Fortunately for them, they could proclaim that the next day would be the same as this one and do the ritual on schedule. We don't have that luxury, so we make do.

In general, it is always best to do the ritual on the day of the festival. If that is not an option, do it the day before (if you can plan for it) or the day after, preferably first thing. Don't hold night-time celebrations in daylight, and don't hold daytime celebrations at night-time. If you are too late to do the ritual, move it to the day after. Daytime and night-time were very important distinctions for the ancient Hellenes, and they held great significance.

It happens. It happens to me, too. In modern society, not much stock is put in proper timing of Hellenic festivals, I fear, and some things just can't be planned around. Thankfully, there are 'safeguards' of a sort built into the way we celebrate: hymns. With hymns, we call upon the Gods and Goddesses we will sacrifice to, and make Them aware of the rites taking place. Even though the ritual is thus not held on the required day, the Theoi will know we honour Them and kharis can be built.