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Recreation: Special Events

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Happy Hour


Most festivals and feasts included drinking wine and beer—but more beer was drunk than wine, as beer was the favorite of the ancients. It was typical that during these drinking parties singers; dancers and acrobats; and musicians performed. Such performers were surrounded by families and friends, who celebrated life, toasted each other to it, and communicated with and appeased the goddess Sekhmet by becoming inebriated, which was more of a common occurrence than a detriment to the party. Such drinking parties were not only for the Lady of Drunkenness—Sekhmet, and the nicer version of her, Hathor—but also for any god that was favored by a particular community or any other god at its necropolis.


Parties such as this occur in a less-than-sacred way: for whatever reason, the ancients enjoyed parties in general and were prone to organize small banquets, a House of Beer, which was of the same mood and elements as festivals to appease Sekhmet.


It was a typical occurrence during such festivities that the high status ladies were attended to by servants who carried upon their trays new necklaces and other jewels; lotus flowers and other cosmetic fragrances; and bowls of beer or wine. It was with these gifts that the ladies performed their toilette as the entertainment kept its rhythm. What is more, couples would enjoy themselves and chatter with each other. For whatever occasion, this was the typical set up.



The Gymnastic Games


One activity at this event was bull-fighting where two stick-welding umpires vied for victory through their short-horned bulls. The bull who won would have to defend his title as champion by fighting another bull, this time with longer horns and draped in a festive cloth. Another activity at this event was a favorite among the Egyptians: “sailor-stabbing.” This was a “sport” of sorts executed by boatmen for their masters. The set up was the following: two men would stand on their bulrush skiffs and then proceeded to knock the other down using long poles. Sometimes this competition would end in greater injury than intended, as it was common for competitors to overdo it. However, testing reflexes and balance was no doubt the measure of this activity rather than how much damage one could cause his opponent. Similar to this in execution was another competition for which a fighter and his opponent would employ short sticks. There was a competition for very skilled men who wore a piece of wood tied to their arms in order to deflect his opponent’s blows.



The Olympics


The earliest form of the Olympics was found not it Greece—although, it was responsible for establishing an organized event for sports competitions, under the name “Olympia”—but in Egypt, during ancient times. Those who attended such games were ancient Egyptian royalty and high officials, who enjoyed such competitions. Such competitions were organized with participants playing archery; equestrian sport; field hockey; gymnastics; handball; high jump; javelin or spear-throwing; marathon running; rowing, swimming; tug of war; and weightlifting.





To rival the ancient Egyptian Olympics, Ptolemy II established a festival known as the Ptolemaieia. Like the Grecian Olympics, it too occurred once every four years.

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