The Halcyon days

A window on the tower,a photo by eliaslar on Flickr

A window on the tower,a photo by eliaslar on Flickr

Lately we had some extremely good weather. Warm and sunny days. Bright days. Spring days instead of winter days. Normally on January we have the so called Halcyon days. Winter days with extremely good weather, a welcome gap in the heart of winter. But now it’s February…! The Halcyon days might have already passed but this good weather winter window was absurdly nice and welcome as well.

The Halcyon days is not a modern term. The term was used by Aristoteles and has its origin in the Greek Mythology and in the more modern science of astronomy.

The ancient Greeks thought that the bird Alcyone (Kingfisher) was Alcyone, the daughter of Aeolus. Alcyone was married to Ceyx and they both were a really happy couple, but not in a “living happily ever after” scenario. Sometimes they used to call themselves “Zeus” and “Hera“…This angered Zeus and one day, while Ceyx was at sea, he threw one of his lightning bolts at Ceyx’s boat (or brought a huge storm according to other sources)! When Alcyone learned that Ceyx was dead, she commited suicide by throwing herself into the sea. Her act rose the compassion of the Olympian Gods…Zeus included (probably succumbing to Hera’s nagging on bed) and they decided to transform Alcyone and Ceyx into…birds! Since the Kingfishers lay their eggs on January, in Greece, the ancient Greeks thought that Zeus were keeping the weather good those days, so that the eggs would be incubated.

A nice and a bit sad story from the rich Greek Mythology.

The years and the centuries passed, the myths were burried under a thin layer of dust and science gained ground. Strange creatures and mythical persons were turned into stars and constellations. Alcyone became one of the stars of the constelation of Pleiades and since Alcyone is clearly visible during the cloudless nights of the Halcyon days on January, it wasn’t that hard for people to name those days after the star.

Science gained lots of ground the last centuries and curious people decided to understand why there is this pleasant weather gap in the heart of winter. The science of meteorology was called to solve the riddle. The official reasoning is that due to Greece’s geographical position there is somekind of High-Low pressure equation resulting in no winds and clear days, while the temperature levels are more pleasant, remaining above the normal winter temperature, and the sun in shinning bright, for a small period of time.

Personally i like the myth rather than the scientific explanation.

Song time!


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