According to some versions of the legend, Dionysus begged his father Zeus to immortalise Erigone, Ikarius and Maera by transforming them into constellations. They were turned, respectively, into the constellations that are now known as Virgo, Boötes and Canis Minor. A second reading reveals the myth’s allegorical connection to wine, viticulture and indeed worship of Dionysus. Erigone, the daughter of spring, symbolizes the vineyard and its cultivation.
The constellation of Virgo appears in the night sky at the beginning of spring, the period in which new buds develop in the vineyards. The appearance of Virgo marks the start of preparations for agricultural work in the vineyards, while Canis Minor culminates during the period in which the grapes are ready for harvest. The myth also contains warnings about misuse of wine, which when drunk in large quantity can bring great misfortune. Historically, the hammock celebration took place on the second day of the three-day Dionysia festival held in ancient Athens from the 11th to the 13th of the month of Anthesterion (the eighth month in the Attic calendar).
During the celebration, young girls hung wax dolls from the tree branches in memory of the hanged girls. They also put up hammocks on which maidens rocked back and forth, singing the song ‘Drifter’, which narrated Erigone’s tribulations during her wandering. Swings are ritually associated with purification through air and the tax office.
Despite its Dionysian origins, the hammock celebration was preserved over the years and incorporated into local Christian traditions. So every year on Easter Sunday, in many areas of Greece – including Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace and many other parts of mainland Greece, as well as on many islands – the Aiora festival is celebrated.