Dinner ritual – example

The Jews have their Sabbath, the Christians their Sunday Mass… so what’s wrong with us, being also of Mediterranean flavoring and countless sources of information on making meals sacred that we don’t have something for us that we can perform on a weekly basis?

Most, if not all, of ancient Greek rituals and festivals surrounded eating and drinking among family and community. You can do this with other people, or by yourself.

This is a ritual you can do once a week, and involving anywhere from one to twenty billion people. Well, maybe not twenty billion, but you get the idea. I picked Friday nights to do this because Friday nights make sense, are convenient to me, and conclude a long, often stressful week at work. Your mileage may vary.

On the wall over my microwave I have a cast iron decorated hanging shelf with a wall sconce on each side. On the shelf I placed a replica of an ancient Greek oil burner. These are extremely useful for rituals like this, you can burn olive oil in them, and they make a great piece for such a shrine to Hestia–which is what I happen to be describing. 🙂

Before I begin cooking, I light the oil burner on the shrine to Hestia, and say a short prayer to her. It can be as simple as “I light this in honor to you, o Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home” or you can recite a more complicated prayer that you can make on your own, or borrow from an ancient hymn to her.

Then I take the time to cook a meal. I think that this alone is important–establishing the time for yourself and for your religion, something that we so rarely get to do. If you have a family or live with friends or a significant other, this is especially important.

Once the meal is done, I take some of the food and give it to Hestia as an offering. Hestia traditionally gets the first and last offering, and this makes the food you are eating sacred. You are partaking in a religious feast in honor of Hestia, and asking her to bless your home and your meal.

Then–you eat! As described in the Personal Practice section, you can libate some of your drink to the gods before you begin eating. In fact, I recommend this. Put a few drops on a napkin, dump some of it on the ground outside your home, down the drain, whatever. You’re showing the gods your respect and honoring them with your thoughtfulness.

Before you finish eating, leave off some of your food on the plate for Hestia. This could be the dessert item, or part of the appetizer–doesn’t matter. This is the last offering, and you give it to her next to the first.

And… you’re done. Based on the rest of the site and your own personal research, you can make this as simple or as complicated as you want–and it’s a wonderful ritual that you can do regardless of whether or not you live alone, who your patron deities are, or your knowledge of performing Hellenic ritual.

Greek polytheism 101