Halcyon Arts brings
the world of music and spirituality
to New England by presenting programs
that enrich and transform.
What does halcyon mean?
1. adjective: denoting a period of time idyllically happy, calm, and peaceful.
2. noun: A bird in Greek legend generally associated with the kingfisher. There was an ancient belief that the bird nested on the sea, which it calmed in order to lay its eggs on a floating nest.
According to Greek mythology, Alcyone, the daughter of the god of the winds, became so distraught when she learned that her husband had been killed in a shipwreck that she threw herself into the sea and was changed into a kingfisher. As a result, ancient Greeks called such birds alcyōn or halcyōn. The legend also says that such birds built floating nests on the sea, where they so charmed the wind god that he created a period of unusual calm that lasted until the birds' eggs hatched. This legend prompted people to use halcyon both as a noun naming a genus of kingfisher and as an adjective meaning either "of or relating to the kingfisher or its nesting period" or "calm." --from Miriam Webster
Thus, the phrase halcyon days owes its origin to this beautiful myth of Alcyone, when, for two weeks around the winter solstice each year, Aeolus, Alcyone's father, calms the winds and the waves so that Alcyone, in the form of a kingfisher, can safely make her nest, lay her eggs, and care for them until they hatched and fledged. Hence, the term "halcyon days" comes to signify a period of great peace and calm.
The Kingfisher native to New England
Background Image: Bird's Nest Floating in Water - by V Fitzjerrell. An original charcoal and pastel drawing in shades of blue.