festivals

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The start of a new year means it’s time for return of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (previously featured here) in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province. This year marks the 32nd year of the world’s larges ice and snow festival. Colossal sculptures made of snow and ice harvested from the surface of the Songhua River. The frozen sculptures are illuminated with colorful LEDs at night and visitors are welcome to walk in and around and even climb on some of them.

The festival opens on January 5th and runs through the end of February, with well over one million visitors expected to attend. The Atlantic just released a wonderful collection of photos of this year’s sculpture. Those picture above are some of our favorites. Click here to view them all.

[via The Atlantic]

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I recently started following the zventenze blog because they’ve been posting a lot of Eastern European winter festivals and costumes, which introduced me to some of the stylin’est, greatest imagery I never knew about. SO GOOD. 

These remind me of my grandmother’s sets of unedited folklore from around the world, which captured my imagination as a child. The stories were always scarier, more surreal, and more beautiful than their post-Victorian retellings. My favorites – regardless of origin – gave me this same cozy-creepy feeling.

  • First three are Bulgarian kukeri, or mummers.
  • Next two are New Year’s bear dancers in eastern Romania, (which I’ve seen posted everywhere but only just learned the context.)
  • Last two are Kurants from the Kurentovanje Festival in Slovenia. 

Lanterns are checked at a factory in Boai county, Henan province on January 19th 2016, in preparation for Chinese Lunar New Year. New Year’s Day is on February 8th and 2016 is a year of the Monkey (a Red or Fire Monkey). Previous Monkey years are 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004. Characteristics of people born in Monkey years include quick wits, intelligence and charisma, along with curiosity, mischieviousness and a fondness for practical jokes. Credit: Reuters/China Daily

Festivals & How to Start

The Hellenic Calendar is full of festivals and dates of importance. It seems completely overwhelming at first, and can seem impossible to get through. When I first decided to look into festivals and libation dates, I automatically assumed “festival” meant some big event likened to a holiday party.

However, these festivals hold more meaning than that, in the sense that these are days on which you celebrate a Theos, and honour them. It can be as simple as giving them an offering as close to what they would receive in ancient times, to as extravagant as holding a ritual with all of your friends and then feasting afterwards.

It’s actually a good way to plan and worship them if you don’t do so daily, and it connects Hellenists around the world.

For certain dates on the calendar, namely Hekate’s DeipnonNoumenia, and Agathos Daimon, are perfect for sorting out your home, life, and worship. It’s a time set aside for renewal and cleaning. I highly recommend reading through the links connected to the above dates, as it has helped me learn and sort out my own home and hearth. :) These are perfect starter dates. 

For festival dates specific to certain Theoi, we are given the time to worship them solely and build kharis, which is a beautiful thing. To break down the days, I like to pick one festival per week/day to get to know ahead of time. For example, I would pick a festival in January since it’s December. Then, I would read up on it until I felt like I knew what it was about and how I can personally celebrate it.

Then, I go through all of the dates I have read about and pick one for each deity, forming my worship calendar. If there are more I would like to celebrate, I do. Eventually, I get to celebrate them all, which I am looking forward to. I sometimes create my own little ritual dates, which feel very personal and important to me.

You can choose to use any Hellenic calendar you wish, but here are some links to good ones :)

2015 Hellenion

2015 Elaion