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Visiting Greece in Winter: Everything you Should Know About the Halcyon Days

    The Halcyon Days, or “Alkionides Meres,” as the Greeks call them, are a strange and unique weather phenomenon. The phenomenon takes place in the heart of winter and, of course, has a Greek background.

    A myth explains the origins and takes us back to ancient Greek civilization and its heroes. Halcyon Days, also known as Alkyonides Days in Greek, offer a great story that you will definitely want to share with your family.

    What are the Halcyon Days?

    Halcyon Days are a weather phenomenon that occurs in the winter. While average winter temperatures are as high as 13℃ (55.4℉), the weather changes when Halcyon Days occur.

    Many people do not even know that Greece has low temperatures in the winter. You can visit Greece all year round and even on the islands like Santorini and Mykonos, you will always have something to do!

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    During this time, the days are sunny, windless and cloudless. The temperature is at its highest during the winter season. The thermometer climbs up to 20℃ (68℉)! 

    This amazing phenomenon lasts up to 15 days across the country. People love to go for walks and day trips to nearby destinations.

    When are the Halcyon Days? 

    Halcyon Days take place in the heart of winter and last about 15 days. The days are not the same every year, of course. However, they do take place between December 15 and February 15. 

    As you know, sometimes the days during Christmas are not snowy or very cold due to this phenomenon. Many people choose to visit Greece in Winter, especially the mainland.

    As a visitor, you can do tours and activities in Greece all year round, but especially at Christmas. For example, you can take a food tour of the Greek capital, Athens, where you will learn about festive Greek cuisine.

    christmas family food tour athens kids love greece activities for families

    What is the Halcyon?

    Halcyon or Alkyone, in Greek, is a bird. More specifically, it is a species of kingfisher that builds its nests by the sea. The main reason for this is that the birds build their nests by the sea to protect their eggs from the sea winds during the breeding season. 

    This tactic of the brilliant Halcyons is linked to a myth, the myth of Halcyon Days, which we will analyze later.

    The Origin of the Name Halcyon

    The name Halcyon literally means calm and peace in English. So Halcyon Days means calm and peaceful days. But why Halcyon?

    Well, it’s about the bird Halcyon and the homonymous star Alkyone in the constellation of the Pleiades. As we mentioned earlier, the bird builds its nest by the sea during the breeding season. 

    At the same time, the star Alkyone reaches its peak in the evening hours. As a result, during this phenomenon the nights are cloudless and the star is visible.

    As a result, the name is associated with the history of a species of birds and a simple natural phenomenon.

    The Myth of the Halcyon Days 

    The myth of Halcyon Days is based on the story of Halcyon and Ceyx. According to the myth, the goddess Halcyon, Alkyone in Greek, was the daughter of the ruler of the winds, Aeolus.

    Halcyon was married to the king Ceyx, who was mortal. Everyone knew how much they loved each other! 

    Once Ceyx had to go to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi and traveled there by boat. Halcyon was afraid of the sea and tried to persuade him, but she couldn’t change his mind.

    In a terrible storm, Ceyx drowned and his ship was wrecked. While Ceyx was fighting for his life, he begged Poseidon to take his body to Halcyon. Moerpheus, the god of dreams, came into Halcyon’s dream and let her know of the tragedy.

    She woke up and ran to the shore where she found her husband’s body. She was so desperate that she decided to throw herself into the waves. The gods were so impressed by her love that they decided to save her and him and turn them into sea birds, the Halcyons.

    Zeus ordered her to lay her eggs only in winter and to build her nest only on the coast, near where she had found Ceyx. During this time, Zeus also gave her 14 days of calm and peaceful weather.

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