Festivals in Sparta

Hyacinthia

This was one of the most important Spartan festival, lasted 3 days and was held in early summer.

The 1st day was for mourning the death of the hero and sacrifices were offered to the dead. There were plain sacrificial breads and banquets held without any pomp or ceremony.

The 2nd day celebrated his rebirth and young people would play instruments including Aulas (wind instrument) and Cithara (instrument of the lyre family), and sing of the glory of Apollo and also country songs would be sung by many choirs and dancing would take place. There would also be horse races.

Carts would be decorated by Spartan girls and women from Amyclae, and they would be paraded in Amyclae (a village in Laconia) to celebrate the death of Hyacinthus. Many sacrifices were made including goats and banquets held for citizens, families and friends. Helots (slaves) and foreigners were also allowed to attend.

The 3rd day was solemn and Spartan women would weave a Chiton (tunic), which was then offered to the gods.

Due to the importance of this festival, war campaigns were believed to have been interrupted, so warriors could return and take part in the festival.

Carnea

This was a festival held in honour of Apollo Carneus (God of Flocks and Herds, Harvest and Vintage). It was an annual festival and no military campaigns would take place during the festival.

Unmarried youths were chosen and would chase a man (possibly a priest). If the man was caught it meant prosperity for the city, if not then the opposite would occur. Nine tents were set up with nine citizens and they would feast in honour of the gods. The Carnea festival was an imitation of life in military camp. In ceremony, a ram was sacrificed at the city of Thurli.

Gymnopaedia

This was an annual summer celebration dedicated to Apollo and other gods. Naked youths displayed their strength through martial arts and athletic skills. They would perform military war dances and show their musical grace and warrior stamina.

Enyalia

At Enyalia a dog would be sacrificed to the god (Enyalius). Some believe Enyalius to be Ares, the God of War.

 

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