Obsolete Word of the Day

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

halcyon days

The current use and meaning of this phrase is nostalgic in nature, recalling the sunny, carefree days of youth.

Halcyon comes from alcyon, a bird in Greek legend commonly considered to be the kingfisher. The h was tacked onto alcyon because of the association with the sea, which is hals in Greek.

Aeolus was the ruler of the winds. He had a daughter Alcyone who was married to the king of Thessaly, Ceyx. Ceyx drowned at sea and in her grief, Alcyone threw herself into the sea. Her father, the ruler of the winds, instead carried her to her husband. The gods changed them into winter birds. Around the winter solstice, the ocean calms and for fourteen days, Alcyone will sit on her floating nest out at sea and hatch out more little kingfishers.

Halcyon means calm and tranquil, happy and carefree; but it is rarely used outside the phrase halcyon days. Halcyon days, those 14 days that the weather is calm around the winter solstice. Seven days before and seven after.

The winter solstice was December 22 this year, so we still have a few halcyon days left. One more halcyon day until Christmas!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may not hear the music playing in my head, but it incorparates the term Halcyon Days. Need I say more?-Beave

12/24/06, 3:32 PM  
Blogger the scribbler said...

I'm glad that I cannot hear the music playing in your head. That would mean that I was as far gone, or farther gone, than you!

12/24/06, 4:07 PM  

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