The Babylonian calendar is divided into two halves – the vernal and autumn equinoxes. They usher in the periods of disharmony between the Sun and the Moon. From March to September, Utu, the Sun, is triumphant, and from September to March, Nanna-Suen is more visible. At the spring equinox, the Akiti Se-kintu (the Festival of the Harvest) is held. At the autumn equinox, it is the Akiti-Su-numun (the Festival of the Seeding). In the month of September/October (Note 1.), the focus is on the Autumn Equinox and the coming darkness.
At the Akiti-Sunumun, the emblems of Nanna-Suen are cleaned. Hailed as “Father Nanna, when You sail (across the sky) like a ship on flood waters,” the Moon God loads his Boat with gifts of trees, plants, and animals. He sails from city to city bringing the people fertility. For this reason, The Boat of Nanna-Suen also receives offerings. The Great Offerings to Nanna-Suen are made at the New Moon (the first of the month), the Quarter Moon (seventh), and Full Moon (the fifteen). Modern Sumer Reconstructionists will bake cupcakes for the Great Offerings. (Note 2.)
Kinunu (Brazier Festival)
From the eighth to the eighteenth days of the month, the Kinunu (Brazier Festival) is held. For this festival, people wear their new clothes. Using fresh olive oil, they light their braziers to keep burning throughout the Kinunu. The First Fire of the coming cold and early darkness is honored.
Duku (Festival of the Sacred Mound)
At the end of the month, the Duku (Sacred Mound) festival is held. After feasting with family and friends, homage is made to the Ancestors. Lamentations are read and milk is offered to Endukuga (Lord of the Sacred Mound) and Nindukuga (Lady of the Sacred Mound). They are the Great Ancestors of the Elder Gods, who lived at the Duku. (This was the place of Heaven and Earth before the two parts were separated by Enlil.)
At this time, the Descent of Inanna is re-enacted to ensure that the land is fertile. Her Descent into the Underworld is the hinge between the dry and rainy seasons. Inanna dies but is rescued. Since someone has to replace Her in the Underworld, Dumuzi, Her Shephard Consort, goes down for six months. His sister, Geshtinanna, Goddess of Autumn Wines, takes his place the other six months.
Note 1: In Sumer, this month is called “Duku”, and in Babylon, “Tairitu.”
Note 2: The Great Offering was originally cattle, beer, milk, honey, and grain. Today, cupcakes made with grain, honey, and milk are offered.