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Author Topic: Spring Equinox  (Read 1560 times)
Figment99
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« Topic Start: March 15, 2011, 12:03:45 pm »

I was wondering when New Years started in the Ancient Greek culture. I was reading Hesiod's Works and Days and on line 563 it says,

 "Observe all this until the year is ended and you have nights and days of equal length, and Earth, the mother of all, bears again her various fruit."

To me this sounds like the new year began at the Spring Equinox. I know that the new year date really depended on the location as with many of the holidays in the ancient world. I also know that the Persians did and still do celebrate their New Year on the Spring Equinox. I know that the Athenian calendar has been most studied, but I am not sure where to look for this sort of information.

So my question is, when was New Year? How was the Spring Equinox celebrated or looked upon? Was it considered an important event?

Thank you for your time.
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« Reply #1: March 15, 2011, 06:18:40 pm »

I know that the Athenian calendar has been most studied, but I am not sure where to look for this sort of information.

Here's Hellenion's page on the Athenian New Year:
http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/festivals/athenian-new-year

Generally, you can get an idea of when Athenian festivals fall from HMEPA, though there's often not a lot of information about said events there:
http://www.numachi.com/~ccount/hmepa/
(...Which has the Athenian New Year in late June or early July, actually.)

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So my question is, when was New Year? How was the Spring Equinox celebrated or looked upon? Was it considered an important event?

My understanding is that the ancient Greeks (or at least Athenians; insert caveat about "ancient Greece" really being made up of a lot of cultures here) didn't really place much importance on the solstices and equinoxes--there might be festivals on or near those dates, maybe even with similar themes sometimes, but not really specifically *about* the whole solar-cycle thing, if that makes sense.
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« Reply #2: March 15, 2011, 06:23:44 pm »

My understanding is that the ancient Greeks (or at least Athenians; insert caveat about "ancient Greece" really being made up of a lot of cultures here) didn't really place much importance on the solstices and equinoxes--there might be festivals on or near those dates, maybe even with similar themes sometimes, but not really specifically *about* the whole solar-cycle thing, if that makes sense.

Pretty much -- the seasons are different in Athens than they are in London -- multiple growing seasons and the like. It's more like Texas where the southern parts of the state have three growing/harvest "seasons" most years.
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« Reply #3: March 15, 2011, 09:51:46 pm »


So my question is, when was New Year? How was the Spring Equinox celebrated or looked upon? Was it considered an important event?

Thank you for your time.

What Star said. Smiley

The Athenian New Year used the summer solstice to mark when the year would start. No longer practicing, I can't remember exactly what the details were, but I believe it would generally begin in June or July.

There really wasn't much emphasis placed on the solstices/equinox. Also, it helps to remember that the Athenian calendar literally had a holiday nearly every day. You had your biggies, but then you had days dedicated to certain deities/practices, and much of their calendar wasn't agrarian based.
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« Reply #4: March 16, 2011, 09:33:36 am »

What Star said. Smiley

The Athenian New Year used the summer solstice to mark when the year would start. No longer practicing, I can't remember exactly what the details were, but I believe it would generally begin in June or July.

There really wasn't much emphasis placed on the solstices/equinox. Also, it helps to remember that the Athenian calendar literally had a holiday nearly every day. You had your biggies, but then you had days dedicated to certain deities/practices, and much of their calendar wasn't agrarian based.

Thank you all so much for the information. I had already tried looking up the answer to my own question, but I guess I didn't use the right keywords because I couldn't find anything.

Thank you Star for the sites, this will help me a lot.
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