Greek Red-Figure Miniature Chous, Attica, Circa 420-400 C.E. A young child crawls toward a cluster of grapes hanging on the vine, below which is placed a miniature chous.

Today is Choës, the second day of the festival of Anthesteria. Some consider it to be the anniversary of the wedding of Ariadne to Dionysus. On this night in ancient Athens, the Basilinna, ceremonial Queen and wife of the Archon Basileus, ceremonial King and Magistrate of religious rites, became the mystic bride of Dionysus in a sacred ceremony.

This day is named for choës (singular: chous), short, round vessels with a single handle and trefoil mouth which were used to pour wine. This is one type of the vessels made for this use, collectively known as oinochai (singular:  oinochoe; from oinos – wine and cheo – I pour).  

The miniature version seen here were invariably decorated with scenes of young children, usually boys, but sometimes girls. Scholars believe these vessels were gifts to children three years of age by their parents for the Anthestheria, and that these children would drink their first drops of wine on this sacred occasion. It was such an important event in the life of a child that a chous was often placed in the grave of a child who died before attending their first Anthestheria


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