Our Lady of Celestial Fire

Festival of Thargelia

May 7

(Greek) Ancient: 7 Thargelion (first quarter).
The Thargelia, which is probably identical to the ancient Thalusia (First-fruit Offering), is a harvest festival celebrated when the corn is threshed. Although in many cases the time varies from farm to farm, and coincides with the actual completion of the harvest (May or June), since it is a festival for Apollo (as a guardian of crops), it nominally occurs on the seventh day, His birthday. It has two parts, purification and offering.

The sixth day (the birthday of His sister, Artemis) is a day of purification, and two (preferably unattractive) men, the Pharmakoi (Scape-Goats), who have been fed by the people, are led around the city, and then driven away by fig-branches and (poisonous) squill-bulbs (used for purification). One Pharmakos wears a necklace of black figs, which represent the men of the city, and the other wears one of white figs, representing the women.

The following day is for a first-fruits offering to the God; the Thargelos is made by boiling corn and other vegetables in a pot. There are separate hymn singing contests for men’s and boys’ choirs; the winners receive a tripod,which they then dedicated to the God.