Dionysus and Ariadne. Roman fresco, 1st century C.E. (via Getty Museum, Malibu, California.) 

This is the first day of the Anthesteria (Festival of Flowers), a three-day festival in the early springtime of the year to honor Dionysus. The Anthesteria combined religious ceremony, merry-making, an inversion of the social order along the lines of the Roman Saturnalia, and propitiation of the spirits of the dead. In ancient times women, men, and children over three years of age participated, adorned with flower crowns, as are Ariadne and Dionysus in the fresco above. These festival crowns would later be dedicated to Dionysus at his temple.

Today marks the Pithoigia, the day on which the first jars (pithoi) of the new wine were opened, and libations offered to Dionysus. I’ll be celebrating with a glass of wine this evening, and offering prayers and libation to the god.

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