On the Day of the Cattle-Rustling Festival, the Cattle Went A-Rustling

What a crazy sense of humour the Gods have! This past weekend, we decided to celebrate the Boukokleptia outdoors. As the festival calendar of Neos Alexandria tells us:

This modern Greek festival occurs on 4 Daisios.

[The] “Cattle-rustling festival” [is] a day of inversion to honour Hermes. Throughout the day participants will tell wild stories, exaggerate, lie, pretend, pull pranks on each other, and generally exist in a state of prolonged silliness. The day culminates in a feast to honour Hermes’ stealing of Apollon’s cattle and the clever way that he covered up the theft – in the form of a steak dinner to which the god is invited as guest of honour, including a special seat set up for him and his own meal. The myth of his cattle-rustling is either read (Homeric Hymn IV) or dramatically reenacted. Afterwards the participants engage in a boasting-game. Each person starts off by reciting some accomplishment that they are proud of, and everyone else drinks to their skill. With each round the boasts grow wilder and bolder, leaving behind all probability until the participants are out-and-out lying. The winner is the person who can make the most improbable statement while keeping a straight face and not breaking into a fit of laughter.

Now, as if our outrageous boasting contest wasn’t crazy enough, a herd of young cows decided to rush towards our ritual space — first, politely showing interest in our offerings to Hermês and the Gods, then finally, helping themselves, all else be damned.

No cattle rustlers in sight, but rustler cattle?

No cattle rustlers in sight, but there were ‘rustler cattle’ for sure. Here, you can seem them enjoying their stolen meal.

Coincidence or a divine prank, we took it as a good sign. I mean, they did wait until we had finished with the hymns and the boasting before they crashed our party. Oh, Hermes, you funny god, you.

[flashback]

Me and the Indophile preparing the offerings and the ritual fire ...

Me and the Indophile preparing the offerings and the ritual fire …

... under the same spot as last week, under a young mango tree.

… On the same spot as last week, under a young mango tree.

We began with a hymn to the All-Gods, then proceeded to praise Hermês for his cattle-rustling feat.

We began with a hymn to the All-Gods, then proceeded to praise Hermês for his cattle-rustling feat.

Fortunately for the cows, none of our offerings were toxic to livestock (or so Google tells me).

Fortunately for the cows, none of our offerings were toxic to livestock (or so Google tells me).

... Just good food for immortal and mortal alike, man or cow.

… Just good food for immortal and mortal alike (man or cow).

What we receive, we give back; what we give back, may we receive again.

I hope the cows enjoyed it; I know we did.

Belated Crazy Boukokleptia and a Happy First Wednesday of the month!

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