Haloa

Haloa

Late December or early January
The Haloa was an ancient Greek festival in honor of Demeter and Dionysus. It took place in Eleusis near the time of the Winter Solstice. The Haloa is believed to have been an attempt to restore the earth's lost fertility and also, in years when it was obvious that the crops were not growing well, to reverse the course of nature and assist the weak shoots in surviving the winter months.
Only women attended the Haloa. Although there are many theories about what went on there, most involve lewd jokes and games, and uninhibited discussions about sex and illicit love. The celebrants carried sexual organs made out of clay, and pastries made to resemble sex organs were set out on the table. It was believed that such obscene behavior encouraged fertility, and it makes sense in view of the fact that the Haloa was held at a time of year when the fields were frozen and the growth of crops was at a temporary standstill. By manipulating sexual and agricultural symbols, by feasting and carrying on, the women attempted to "warm up" the earth and stimulate its dormant fertility.
SOURCES:
AtticFest-1981, p. 104
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 867
NewCentClassHandbk-1962, p. 513
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