Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Didn't we have a beautiful day in Athens yesterday? The sky was as clear as the Mediterranean in August and the sun was warm. There was barely a breeze. I took walks every chance I got during the day and hummed songs to myself. That beautiful day reminded me of sunny winter afternoons of my childhood in the Home Country.

Winters in Greece are made much more tolerable for me thanks to days like yesterday, which are called Alkionides. What explains these 15 or so days each winter where summer gives you a sneak preview? Metreological magic? No! This is Greece and there is a myth to explain everything.

The legend goes like this. Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolos and was married to Ceyx son of the morning star. They were so ridiculously happy together that they went about calling themselves Hira and Zeus. Of course the gods were having none of that so when Ceyx went out to sea Zues fixed it with Poseidon to wreck the ship and Ceyx was killed.

Alcyone learnt about this when Ceyx appeared to her in a vision. She was so distraught that she wept and wailed and finally threw herself into the sea. Once their jealous egos had cooled down, the gods felt pretty bad about this so they changed the lovers into halcyon birds, otherwise known as kingfishers.

Alcyone made her nest on the beach in the winters, but the sea and the wind kept destroying it. So the gods got together and gave her 15 days of calm weather before and after the shortest day of the year so that she could nest and hatch her eggs.

That's where the alkionides come from. Enjoy them and don't anger the gods.

Image: http://www.cuerdenvalleypark.org.uk/jpegs/kingfisher.jpg


teacher dude said...

Glad to hear your enjoying your Halcyon days. I remember arriving in Greece at this time of year and marvelling at the mildness of the weather.

Just be careful, winter is still out there prowling somewhere.

Marilyn said...

Hey Bollybutton!
I finally made it to your most current entry - yay! You'd be surprised how long it actually took to read them all. The weather sounds lovely - I hope some of it's left over for when I get there! Regardless, anything is better than the freezing temps we've been getting in New England.