Dionysos inverts cultural norms, so it is weirdly appropriate that His great spring festival starts out with wine and sex and moves to gloom and solemnity instead of the other way around. Khutroi is named for the traditional grain and seed dish that is prepared for Hermes Kthonios and the dead.
Even the way in which the dead are viewed is hard to nail down. On the one hand, these are our beloved ones, and it is an opportunity to think of them, honor them, talk to them. And yet the eeriness of having the dead walk among the living was clearly part of the unease of the festival in ancient times. Citizens of Athens chewed buckthorn and smeared their doorways with pitch to protect themselves from evil. The temples remained closed, the household shrines covered as if in mourning. The rowdiness of drinking contests and the bawdy songs directed toward the Basilanna, none of these are present on Khutroi. Dionysos’s exuberant presence is absent, and the day’s worship is directed to Hermes in his role as guide of the dead.
The Khutroi dish is composed of seeds, grains and beans combined with the other traditional offerings for the dead, honey, olive oil and milk. No wine should be cooked into the dish nor offered, and humans should not share in this meal.
Another important aspect of Anthesteria should be incorporated into Khutroi if it has not been done on Pithogia or Khoes, and that is the remembrance of Erigone. Dionysos favored her father Ikarios, and it was to him that the God gave the gift of the knowledge of winemaking. But he was murdered, and Erigone hanged herself from grief. On this day it is appropriate to swing, and to hang tiny effigies such as paper dolls from trees as homage to the girl whom Dionysos loved enough to transform into a star. It has not been definitively proven on which day the swinging took place, so most modern worshippers do so on Khoes. But if not, it should be done on Khutroi before the final cleansing.
As anyone who has studied Greek theater knows, catharsis is a necessary aspect of going through a grieving process, which is what Anthesteria is, at least in part. So as the final day draws to a close, it is time to purify one’s home of miasma. Smearing the doorways with pitch is rarely done, and buckthorn is a potent purgative so its use is worrisome. Modern practitioners might want to smudge or asperge their homes, in addition to physical cleaning. The traditional cry at sundown of ‘Thuraze, Keres! Ouket Anthesteria!’ means ‘To the doors, ghosts! The Anthesteria are finished!’ Hermes leads them back to their rightful abode, the living unveil their shrines, and preparations for spring can officially begin.