Ecclesia Ordinis Caelestis Templum Olympicus/Celestial Order and Temple of Olympus

Festival of Puanepsia

October 22

(Greek) Ancient: 7 Puanepsion (first quarter).
The Puanepsia is a festival of late autumn fruit gathering that seeks divine blessings for the autumn sowing. This very ancient festival is primarily in honor of Phoebos Apollo as sun god, but also for Helios (Sun) and the Horai (Hours); all are considered vegetation deities, perhaps through Their connection with the sun. Further, since Mycenaean times the earth-born Athenians have considered themselves descendants of the Sun (whom the Myceneans may have called Pa-ya-wo = Phoebos = Bright) and Ge (Earth). Thus the festival is held on the seventh day, for on the seventh of each (Greek) month (which is the first quarter of the moon) Apollo’s birthday is celebrated. The Puanepsia corresponds to the spring Thargelia (7 Thargelion, c. May 22).

In the procession each Pais Amphithales (Child with Two Living Parents) carries an Eiresione. Typically an Eiresione is an olive branch carried by a supplicant and wrapped round with wool (eiros = wool), but in this case it is a laurel branch (sacred to Apollo), perhaps two to three feet long, decorated with real fruit and models of harps, cups and vine-branches made of pastry, all symbols of fruitfulness. In a kind of Trick-or-Treat the children bring these to each house and sing:

Th’ Eiresione bears rich cakes and figs and honey in a jar, and olive oil to sanctify yourself, and cups of mellow wine that you may drink and fall asleep.

If the occupant gives a gift to the children, he earns an Eiresione and the yearlong blessing it conveys. Normally it is fastened above the door of the house, as it is over the door of the sanctuary of Apollo when the procession reaches it. If no Pais Amphithales comes to your home, you may bless it with your own Eiresione.

The festival derives its name from a stew of boiled beans (puanon epsein = to boil beans) and other leguminous vegetables and cereals that is boiled in a pot (khutros) and shared by the celebrants and the God; it is a typical Greek Panspermia (All-seeds). According to legend this was the votive offering Theseus and his crew made to Apollo when they returned to Greece on this day, for it was all that was left of their provisions. On the other hand, it is typical of a sowing ritual to combine all the edible plants to be sown and to share them with the God, praying that the next year may be bountiful. [NFR 29; PFA 75–7; SFA 75–7, 107]