The Panathenaea (all-Athens) was celebrated annually in Midsummer. Instituted by the Athenian tyrant Pisistratus in the mid-500s B.C., the festival served as a national religious holiday that celebrated the birthday of Athena-the city’s patron Goddess. During the weeklong celebration, there were sacrifices, sports competitions, and a procession of citizens. Every fourth year the festival was especially elaborate and called the Great Panathenaea, during which the procession of citizens would carry a new pelops, or lady’s gown, up to the Athenian Acropolis. The gown was then offered up to the ancient olive wood statue of Athena.
Athena the warrior Goddess was admired for her intelligence and dislikes of senseless violence and was adept at the art of peace. The patroness of architects, sculptors, spinners, and weavers, Athena was the proctor of all towns, especially Athens, of which she was the patron deity. The most notably celibate of the Greek Goddesses, Athena’s symbols include the owl, olive tree, spear, shield, chariot and flute. her colors are gold, blue, and olive green, and she is associated with the numbers 9 and 25.