Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anthesteria Khytrai

Today is the final day of the Anthesterion festival. Anthesteria Khytrai -- the feast of pots -- is the day when the dead are feasted with an offering of Panspermia. What is Panspermia, you ask? Get your mind out of the gutter! It is literally all seeds, and is a type of porridge sweetened with honey and flavored with dried fruits. Here are some thoughts from the Hellenic community that I have collected concerning Panspermia.

Robert from the Hellenic_Recons Yahoo Group suggests

A meal featuring the panspermia, sweetened or not, could be the bed for vegetable medley (I think meat is not appropriate for this chthonic rite), greens and green vegetables, etc. Walter Burkert in Greek Religion, Harvard 1985, refers to the panspermia as grains of all kinds boiled in a pot with honey (p. 240, see also pp. 237-242). This would preclude legumes I would think and refers to the very ancient, simple, and delicious meal of whole grains such as the barley with sesame sweetened with honey mentioned in the Homeric epigram. How about a onion/leek dish to go with it, that would be rather sweet and accompany it well?

Whereas Thomas Day Seymour's book Life in the Homeric Age states that the same Homeric meal was

a posset... of cheese, barley meal, and honey ...mixed with Pramnian wine.

Mano Madytinou, a native of the isle of Lesbos in Greece suggests

For those who are interested in more traditional Panspermia recipes, I would recommend looking into its modern form which is still used as the 'Food of the Dead' in Orthodox countries. It's modern name is 'Koliva' and the only probable difference between the ancient and modern recipes is the modern substitution of sugar for honey.

Here in Hellas, everyone's Koliva is slightly different to others in that different people will add a different mixture of things (such as more seeds, or more nuts, or more fruits, etc) Just please be careful when preparing Koliva because it must be prepared properly, kept refrigerated and eaten fresh because of the dangers involved with the fermentation of wheat.

There is excellent information about the history of Koliva at Wikipedia.

After the festival has ended it is traditional to cry out

Thuraze Kêres, ouket' Anthestêria!

Which translates Begone Ye Spirits! The Anthesteria are done!

Kali Anthesteria!

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