Country Dionysia

Country Dionysia

December
Like the Haloa, the Country Dionysia was an ancient Greek celebration that was originally a fertility festival with a strong phallic emphasis. Both were observed during the latter part of the month of Poseideon (December), at the time of year when the days were at their shortest. The Country Dionysia, in fact, was not tied to a single date but was celebrated all over Attica on dates that were determined by local custom. Like Christmas festivities, it was something that everyone—even slaves—participated in. It was also a time for traditional games, particularly askoliasmos ("standing on one leg"), which involved trying to stand on top of a goatskin that had been blown up like a beachball and then covered in grease. There were other contests that also entailed standing on one leg and jumping the longest possible distance, or trying to touch the other players with the leg that was held off the ground.
In its earlier days, the Country Dionysia included a simple procession in which someone carried a jar of wine and a vine, someone dragged a he-goat, someone held a wicker basket of raisins, and someone held a phallus. But over time, it became an elaborate event with gold vessels, expensive costumes, and teams of horses.
SOURCES:
FestAth-1977, p. 100
OxClassDict-1970, p. 350
(c)
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