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As in every country and season, there are natural phenomena. A Greek winter can be cold and in the mountainous areas, and it always snows. However, every year there are also some very warm days with a lot of sunshine. They are called the “Halcyon days” or “Alkionides Meres”. Unfortunately, we never know on which days exactly those calm bright days will come. Usually, it is the period after Christmas until the end of January when there is a non-interrupted period of days with clear blue skies and warm temperatures, which at least in the Athens region can reach more than 20°C during day-time.

What’s In The Name?

Alkyonides Days are named after the bird Alcyone (or halcyon/kingfisher birds), which lays its eggs during this time of year in the cracks of sea rocks. The allegorical meaning is of the homonymous star Alcyone in the Pleiades cluster (which bears the name of the bird). During this period, the star Alcyone culminates during the evening hours and therefore during the cloudless nights in January, the star is visible to the cluster of the Pleiades in the highest area of the celestial dome. As a result of this simple natural event, all the consecutive days that the Alcyone star is visible were naturally called ‘Alkyonides’.

Alkyonides Days From A Scientific Point Of View

From a meteorological point of view, the Alkyonides Days are created as a result of the latitude of Greece during these days of the winter, heightened barometric pressure, combined with no wind, cool temperatures, and intense sunshine.

The Myth Behind The Alkyonides Days

There are several myths surrounding the phenomenon of the Alkyonida Days, the most common of which is the story of Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus, the Greek god of the wind. Alcyone was the devoted wife of Ceyx, King of Thessaly in central Greece. Ceyx ruled his kingdom with justice and in peace. Alcyone and Ceyx were admired by gods and mortals alike for their physical beauty, and profound love that they had for each other.

Zeus punished the arrogant couple who dared to compare themselves to gods by plunging Ceyx’s ship and drowning him. Alcyone lamented her loss so much that she threw herself into the sea and drowned, determined to join her husband in the land of the dead. The gods of Olympus were so profoundly affected by the tragic fate of the couple and their wonderful love for one another that Zeus transformed the couple into halcyon birds (kingfisher), yet condemned to give birth in the winter. The waves of the sea rushed into the rocks and destroyed Alcyone’s nest and eggs, and Zeus once again felt regret and ordered the winds to stop and the sun to shine for fifteen days in the heart of the winter so that Alcyone could safely lay her eggs.

Enjoy the sunshine!