Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Halcyon Days of December


Good morning.  Time is flying by so quickly.  I just can't seem to catch up.  We've our first bit of snow outdoors.  Not much, just enough to make it slippery. Haven't done a lick of shopping for my boys.  Was planning to take about an hour off work this afternoon to run out and see what I could find; after all, I rarely have a lunch hour.  Unfortunately though, we have a training this afternoon....CPR.  It's great to know, but a rather painful training.  I just 'refuse'  to get down on the floor today with that dummy.  They'd better understand that I just 'cannot' do it.   Oh, if every have to save someone, I just know the adrenaline will kick in, but to put myself through torture just to save a dummy?  No thanks.  Besides, I've already had this class twice.  It's not something you easily forget.

December 14th marks the start of the Halcyon Days of December, the 14 day period centered on the Winter Solstice, the time when the sea is commanded to be calm and the wind light by  Aeolus, God of the Winds and one of the lesser Greek deities. In the Mediterranean region where this belief originated, the weather is typically calm around the time of the Winter Solstice as that was supposedly the time when the halcyon, a bird from Greek legend,  calmed the surface of the sea in order to brood her eggs on a floating nest. Halcyon means calm and tranquil, or 'happy or carefree'. It is rarely used now apart from in the expression halcyon days. 

The source of the belief in the bird's power to calm the sea originated in a myth recorded by Ovid. The story goes that Aeolus, the god of the winds, had a daughter named Alcyone, who was married to Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. Ceyx  went to visit the oracle and on the way was drowned at sea in a storm.   Alcyone saw his death in a dream, and threw herself into the sea in grief. The gods took pity on her and transformed her into a bird, so that instead of drowning, she was lifted into the air and carried to her husband by the wind.  He, too, became a bird and joined her in flight across the sky.Their love lived on, nor in these birds were marriage bonds dissolved, and they soon coupled and were parent birds...

... and ever since, the legend goes, Alcyone carries her dead mate to his burial, then builds a nest and launches it out to sea. There, she lays her eggs and hatches her chicks, brooding over her sea-borne nest for seven placid days before the Winter Solstice and seven becalmed days after....and while she is brooding, the sea is held unusually calm and tranquil to protect Alcyone and his grandchildren. 

 Halcyon means calm and tranquil or happy or carefree .  Our current use of halcyon days leans more towards the nostalgic and recalling of the
“the good old days” or “when life was easy. More often than not, the expression refers sentimentally to a bygone time that we remember as being much more tranquil and prosperous than it really was, so the mythological origin of the term is rather appropriate.  Many of us become nostalgic this time of year and spend time reflecting on our memories of Christmas past...the halcyon days....Remember....

 ...the anticipation and excitement of Christmas you felt the week before
... the wonder and thrill of receiving that special' gift from Santa.
...the innocence and carefree state of mind having off a week or so from school and playing outside in the snow
...building snowmen
...smelling and tasting all those good dishes, desserts, meals and candy that upir grandmother made
...ribbon candy
...getting to stay up way past your normal bedtime
...wishing that the Christmas Season could last for a few months, not just a few days

It is these types of memories each of us have and cherish that make Christmas the special time of year that it is. And, most importantly, it is our responsibility as parent.  For me, Christmas is all of these things, but above all, it is that extraordinarily personal feeling deep inside my heart of Peace, Joy, Goodwill and Love for others.  What are some of your Christmas memories?


  1. Many great ones....a few with my dad drunk on Christmas Eve and not so nice.
    Mom through tears managed to put the bikes and other things needing to be put together for the younger ones.
    My Christmas at age fourteen still remains clear in my memory.
    Betty Lydell roller rink white shoe skates and a Timex watch.
    Just what I wanted! :0)
    I can still feel the excitement I felt!

  2. ~beautiful mary...as for the training...yuck! i am right there with you...i use to have to take it and i agree once you have had it you are least likely to forget what you should do...good luck! warm wishes and brightest blessings~

  3. December 14th marks the start of the Halcyon Days of December, the 14 day period centered on the Winter Solstice.

    Never heard of these! But who wouldn't like anything which brings calm? :-)

  4. And I *stole* it, for my entry today. :-)

    LINKING to you, of course.

    I posted just a "teaser," and said to come here, to read all about it.

    Thank you! I was dry on posting inspiration to day.

  5. Thank you for sharing that story - I love your bank of knowledge! I also love a good story about where a certian word comes from.

    A favourite memory is having a beautiful Christmas breakfast with a couple who I befriended 15 years ago. The wife passed 3 years ago now, and he has remarried, so we no longer have breakfast together - but it was always a really wonderful way to start Christmas day.

  6. The yesteryear views of Christmas/Yule are not fond ones for me...steeped in sickness and alcoholism it brings back sadness. I can recall only two with my Momma, that brought delight, it was the year before she died and we got an accordian to play and Barbie Dolls, the first ones out ever...I was so ecstatic!
    That in and of itself was a huge feat for my Mom as she was unable to work and my Dad drank up the money...I think Santa came in the form of my Auntie that year. Years later, when I was a teenager I lived with that same Aunt and those bring good memories.
    Getting up very early and going to church, out for breakfast, and then home to open gifts and celebrate with a few family members who lived alone...a midday feast, the clearing, and then playing games all afternoon and into the late evening. Boy...I really had to stop and think Mary! So those are my Halcyon days...
    I'm with you on the dummy and training Dear Heart! They should know you'd jump into the fray when needed and not expect more?
    I hope you get your shopping done soon!
    I love you Sister/Friend!

  7. I so feel for you on training. The holidays have always been good for me. No matter where we were or how much we had, we always enjoyed each other and the feast. Our craziest one was the year that our daughter was born. I was so excited, her first and we went all out. I was so disappointed when she had no interest in her gifts, she loved the bows and boxes. We didn't do that again. Wishing you a Blessed Yule!