2018 Khalkeia: the Bronze Festival

A person melting iron in a forge

Khalkeia, the Bronze Festival, was celebrated every year in Athens on the last day of Puanepsion. This festival of Athena Erganē (Athena Craftworker) and Hēphaistos Klutomētis (Hēphaistos Famed for Skill) has echoes in today’s Labor Day: a day set aside to honor artisans and crafters of all sorts, all the people who make the things necessary or useful or pleasant to have for living. Ironically, instead of setting down our artisanry and craftwork to celebrate this festival as the ancient Athenians did, we feel it right and proper to take these up.

This is also the day on which the loom was set up for weaving the peplos that would over the next several months be woven by acolytes of the cult of Athena Polias, embroidered with traditional scenes from the Titanomachy, and gifted to Athena at Her great Temple in Athens at the celebration of Her birth and the city’s, Panathenaia. Athena stands as mother to Erikhthonios, the mythical first king of Athens, and Hēphaistos stands as his father: Khalkeia must have been a civic celebration as well as a religious festival.

The sun is rising in Cyprus, and so the festival of Khalkeia begins. Join the procession to the temple with a brief prayer in the comments below.