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 would like to celebrate some non- Athenian festivals which have not got strictly defined dates, for instance the at once sombre and merry Spartan Hyacinthia honouring Apollo and Hyacinthus (particularly his death and rebirth as the hyacinth flower and as an epithet of Apollo). The only thing that is known about it's date is that it had been celebrated in early Summer. If I celebrate it around the 7 th day of the month in which the Summer Solstice occurs, after the solstice, of course, would you say it would be acceptable? Especially as that would be around a time dear to the god and in early Summer."

There is historical evidence of this festival in Amykles. It was called the Hyakínthia (Ὑακίνθια), and lasted three days somewhere in early summer. Hyakinthos' death was mourned the first day: Hyakinthos received sacrifices, a solemn banquet was organised and it was possibly a day to remember all of those who had passed. We know for sure there were horse races, and most likely other sporting events. The second day was apparently reserved for a celebration of Hyakinthos' rebirth, although it's unclear if the ancient Hellenes celebrated that Hyakinthos was brought back to life himself, or that he was brought back in the form of a flower. From Apollon's epithet 'Apollon Hayakinthios', we could conclude that Hyakinthos was reborn as (a part of) Apollon. Numerous goats were offered to Hyakinthos, and the day was concluded with a huge feast in which anyone could participate. This day was in praise of Apollon, for His love and Hyakinthos' rebirth. We know less about the third day, indicating it might have contained elements of a mystery cult. It might also simply have been a sober day in which not much happened. All we know is that Hyakinthos received a chitōn (χιτών)--possibly on the third day--not unlike Athena got for the Panathenaic games. Xenophon reports that the Spartans interrupted their campaigns in order to participate in the feast, making the Hyakínthia a major Spartan holiday.

There are quite a lot of festivals we do not have clear dates for. This festival is definitely one of them. Finding a date to celebrate any of these is always going to be a guess. Sometimes it's an educated guess, but mostly it's just a guess. The Hyakínthia began on the longest day of the Spartan month Hecatombeus. What month this was is not certain. Arguing from Xenophon we get May; assuming that the Spartan Hecatombeus is the Attic Hecatombaion, we get July; or again it may be the Attic Scirophorion, June. So, I think the day of the Summer Solstice would be good time, as that is the longest day of the year, or the first seventh of the month that comes after it as that is a day sacred to Apollon.


"I read your excellent post about coming of age ceremonies (and deeply enjoyed it, of course), but would you have any specific suggestions on how to adapt these, especially the ones concerning boys, please, to modern worship?"

Sacrificing a lock of hair during a sacrifice around 6 - 10 years of age is most likely a practice that can be carried over into modern times. Then, at 16, the 'ephebeia' could still be celebrated, except with slightly modiied pledge. The original reads:

"I will not bring shame upon these sacred weapons nor will I abandon my comrade-in-arms wherever I stand in the ranks. I will defend both the holy and profane things. I will not hand on the fatherland smaller than I received it, but larger and better, so far as it lies in my power with the assistance of all the other citizens. I will obey the officials who govern wisely and the laws, both those which are already established and those which are wisely established in the future. If anyone attempts to destroy them, I will not allow it, so far as it lies in my power with the assistance of all the other citizens. I will hold in honor the ancestral sanctuaries. The following gods are witnesses: Aglauros, Hestia, Enyo, Enyalios, Ares and Athena Areia, Zeus, Thallo, Auxo, Hegemone, Heracles, the territory of the fatherland, the wheat, barley, vines, olive trees, and fig trees."

This could be adapted to something important to the boy and the family. It would be great if the Theoi are mentioned, but if the son does not believe... well... then They might have to be left out. What matters are the traits of loyalty, strength of character, honesty, accountability, respect and serviceability. What matters is that a boy realizes what it means to be a good man in a modern world, and who better t help him write a vow like this than his father or other male rolemodel?


"Due to circumstnces I missed my Noumenia rites and my Agathos Daimon rites. Extremely bothersome it is but please tell me, should I do them when I finally have the ability to do so?"

In general, I would say that these monthly events tied to set points in time cannot and should not be 'caught up on' once circumstances allow. They will be right there next month.

"are there any rules in hellenismos when it comes to donating parts of your body (or the whole body) after death?"

Human dissections were carried out by the Hellenic physicians Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Chios in the early part of the third century BC, although not much before and after. After the widespread introduction of Christianity, it became impossible to dissect human bodies anywhere in the Hellenistic world, but currently, human dissection is once more widely accepted and could just be part of modern Hellenic living. That said, there would need to be a funeral of sorts and proper funerary rites for your body before that or your soul would not be carried to the Underworld.