Last night marked the start of the Plyntheria festival, whch means that any celebration at the address of Athena should be performed today, in the daylight hours. This minor festival was held solely in Athens and surrounding areas, and was in honor of Athena Polias, Protector of the city. It was considered an auspicious day by the ancient Hellenes, because on this day, they did not have the protection of Athena.

During the Plynteria, the wooden statue of Athena was disrobed of the peplos that She received during the Panathenaia by Her priestesses, veiled, and then taken down to the sea for a wash. Veiling a Theos' image from head to toe was considered apophras, unlucky, as it removed Their presence. You can read more about the history and practices surrounding this festival here.

There is another, smaller, festival connected to the Plynteria the Kallunteria, which was celebrated somewhere in the vicinity of the Plynthria. During this festival, the temple of Athena was swept out--the name of the festival means 'sweeping out' or 'to beautify by sweeping'--and cleaned thoroughly, so that the washed statue would have a clean home to return to. The lamp of Her eternal flame was also refilled and relit by the priestesses on this day. The lamp was a golden vessel, created in the late fifth century by Kallimachos, and was big enough to hold enough oil to burn day and night for the whole year.

Mikalson, in his 'The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian year', stresses that the 24th is merely a estimation, and we, in fact, do not know when the festival was held. He assumes it could even have taken place after the Plynteria, and places the Kallunteria between the 24th and the 28th of the month, with the exception of the 25th, as that was the date of the Plyneria.

As modern practitioners, this day can be used for a spring cleaning of your altar and shrine to Athena. It can also serve as a day to clean all shrines. Covering all shrines is encouraged in reflection of the temples being closed on the 25th. If you have a statue of Athena, this is the time to wash it. Taking Her to the sea is best, but any source of running water will do, even the kitchen faucet. Clean Her peplos, if you have made one for Her, and restore Her to the shine around dusk. Sacrifice to Her, figs or fig cakes preferably. If you do not possess a statue of Athena, simply washing your temple space and offering to Her will suffice.

Because this is a festival that cannot be reconstructed to have any semblance with the ancient festival, there will be no PAT ritual. We do encourage you to enjoy your Kallunteria and Plynteria in the privacy of your own home!