The Bearing of Green Branches to commemorate Theseus's return
The Oschophoria was a festival celebrated in Attica, according to some writers celebrated in honour of Athena and Dionysus, according to others Dionysus and Ariadne. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and ecstasy, known to the Romans as Bacchus, and is pictured here with his companion Pan in a sculpture by Michelangelo.
Said to have been instituted by Theseus, this was a vintage festival, its name derived from the word for a branch of a vine with grapes.
The Greek myth states that when Theseus left Athens, he took with him three girls and two boys dresses as girls. After he killed the minotaur and returned to Athens he was crowned with a wreath of olive leaves. However, because his father died he put the crown on his staff and not on his head. The festival of Dionysus was being commemorated when he returned, and he placed the two boys that were dressed like women at the front of the procession. Consequently, in the procession during the Oschophorian celebrations, two men dressed like women carried vine-branches from the temple of Dionysus to the temple of Athena Skira. They were accompanied by a herald with a wreath wrapped around his staff. Also in the procession were women who carried the sacred foods for the feast. Some of the meat became a burnt offering for the gods, with the remainder eaten or divided up for the participants to take home. When the procession reached the temple, stories were told and many songs sung. The women usually prepared the dinner and narrated myths. Athletic games were also played during the Oschophoria.
We note that October 3 in the Roman Catholic tradition is also the Feast day of St Dionysius, the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens, martyr. Downy helenium, Helenium pubescens, is today's plant, dedicated to this saint.
The god Dionysus (Bacchus) and his drunken festivals (new at the Scriptorium)
The Greek/Roman god and the Dionysia and Bacchanalia