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Origin Of The Term Halcyon Days


Here is the origin of the term Halcyon Days from The Oxford Companion To The Year. December 14 appears to be the beginning of these days according to the book.  

According to a Mediterranean folk belief, seven days before the winter solstice the halcyon—a mythical bird with the body of a kingfisher…—begins to build her nest; this takes her seven days, after which for another seven days she lays and hatches her eggs. During this period, known as ‘the halcyon days’, the sea is clam and can be sailed, almost always off Sicily and frequently elsewhere. Aristotle quotes from the lyric poet Simonides of Ceos: ‘when in the winter month Zeus brings calm to fourteen days the earthlings call the time when the wind is forgotten the holy breeding-season of he many-coloured ‘alycon.

Here is the definition of the term Halcyon Days from The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary—Fourteen days of calm weather supposed to happen when the halcyon was breeding; now, days of idyllic happiness or prosperity.

I don’t have a picture of a halcyon. I do have a picture of a Kingfisher which is of the family Halcyonidae.

December 13, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Neil,

    I encourage you to read Charles Olson’s poem, “The Kingfishers.” A PDF version is available here:

    Click to access olson-kingfishers.pdf

    Happy Hanukkah,


    Comment by Jeff Sirkin | December 13, 2007

  2. Excellent–I will read that poem. Thank you.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 13, 2007

  3. “Halycon”? Are you serious? Or simply dyslexic. If you are, I apologize in advance. But if you aren’t, and this is your typically pathetic (i.e. “liberal”) way of garnering the attention (as you “bloggers” so desperately seem to need), then you deserve the eventual destiny of all “liberals”… scorn and ridicule. So, which is it? Please let us know. LOL

    Comment by JMG | August 17, 2008

  4. The foregoing comment obviously (I hope) refers to the piece “Origin Of The Term Halycon (sic) Days”. Obviously, these are not exactly “halycon” days for the author!

    Comment by JMG | August 17, 2008

  5. Thank you for pointing out the error.

    Maybe it was just a spelling mistake on a blog I do on my own time and with no ads.

    I think folks see here what people on the right can be like. Looking for the chance to be mean and insulting instead of simply pointing out the error. It was such a rush for you to be insulting, you came around for a second comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | August 17, 2008

  6. Thanks for writing this! I came across it in Apollonius Rhodius’s Argonautica and couldn’t figure out what it was talking about! (Book I, line 1096)

    Comment by ringneck | October 23, 2008

  7. Glad I could be of help. Please visit the blog again.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | October 23, 2008

  8. Thanks for the information on “halcyon” days. I used it when I was telling a friend about Singapore and the Far East during the 1930s. To me, the decades before the war were “halcyon” days indeed: the British navy ruled the world’s ocean, and the colonies (e.g. Singapore where my immigrant China family settled) were in a calm, almost immovable state. To the white rulers and their subjects (the black, brown and tan natives), the sun would never set on the British empire. The only disturbing sign was the Japanese over the horizon who were mercilessly bombarding China, ignoring the pleas of America.

    Comment by hsiaoshuang | April 6, 2009

  9. Great comment–Thank you.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 6, 2009

  10. I think the whole mythology around the origin of the term is fascinating – just wrote it up in my blog in time to “celebrate” this year’s halcyon days – great post!

    Comment by Zany Holidays Blogger | December 17, 2009

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