Have you noticed that Athena’s Day has become more and more important, year after year? This little known holiday is in fact one of Sandus’s oldest holidays since it was first included on the Sandum Sancta calendar as early as 2013. This late November holiday is often known as Sandum Thanksgiving due to its close proximity to American Thanksgiving, but plans are afoot this year to make this holiday important in its own right.
Athena’s Day is derived from an Ancient Greek, not an Ancient Roman, holiday. Already this sets Athena’s Day apart from other Sandum Sancta holidays since it is the only ancient Athenian holiday celebrated by the State of Sandus, in contrast to the hundreds of Roman holidays that Sandus has on its official calendar. Based off of a festival called the Khalkeia, this holiday is dedicated to Athena and Hephaestus as workers, specifically bronze workers, since the holiday’s name comes from the Greek word khalkos meaning “bronze.” Because of the holiday’s connection to the Khalkeia, Athena’s Day has emphasised what little is known about this Athenian holiday, such as the fact that there is a procession (a pompe) with people who carry baskets full of grain (kanephoroi) and an offering of “first fruits.”
Over the past few years, this holiday has grown in importance because more and more traditions have been added to its celebration. Since 2018, more emphasis has been placed on the metaphorical giving of first fruits, such as the dedicating of some artistic project to Athena to be completed in time for her birthday, 19 March (the Minervalia). In addition, Athena’s Day is also supposed to be celebrated like other Thanksgivings with a seitan roast, recalling the historical kanephoroi carrying their grains since seitan is wheat protein.
This year, however, may be the biggest explosion of the holiday yet. The Sôgmô has planned to hold the holiday this year and in the future on the weekend following 29 November, effectively meaning the first weekend of December. This adds space between American Thanksgiving and Athena’s Day, while also putting the holiday as a safe transition between the Armilustrium and National Day of Socialism and the Winter holidays. This also fits neatly into the administrative calendar of the State of Sandus: the first weekend of December comes shortly before Sandus’s annual Winter Solstice election, historically held from 10 to 20 December, and offers an ample opportunity to give their Blue Lecture, also a recent innovation in the last few years.
This year in particular, the newly created Cultus Minervae or “Cult of Athena” will take part in the festivities for the first time. What this means is not too clear, though it will likely include the creation of some sort of thanksgiving ritual. At the very least, it will mean that the cult will observe and have more power over vows taken to produce something artistic for Athena in time for her birthday. In addition to this larger cultural role for the holiday, you can also expect that the holiday will also include the Blue Lecture, when the Sôgmô gives their vision for Sandum government in the new year. Already a Sandum Thanksgiving is being planned in Quercus Candida that will likely form the basis of all future years’ template for a successful Athena’s Day.