(Roughly) Daily

The Eye of the Storm…

It’s with a healthy sense of irony (and a grateful nod to MK) that your correspondent notes that we are in the middle of “The Halcyon Days,” as the seven days preceding and the seven following the Winter Solstice were were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Halcyone (1915), Herbert James Draper

The period is the namesake of Alcyone [aka Halcyone], a Greek demi-goddess, the daughter of Aeolus, the guardian of the winds.  Alcyone married Ceyx, son of Eosphorus (the morning star) and the king of Thessaly.  They were very happy together until Ceyx perished in a shipwreck and Alcyone (“queen who wards off [storms]”) threw herself into the sea.  Out of compassion, the gods changed them both into kingfishers– the halcyon birds. Since Alcyone made her nest on the beach, and waves threatened to destroy it, Aeolus restrained his winds and becalmed the waves during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs. Thus the period became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms never occur; and the halcyon, a symbol of tranquillity… and the source of today’s expression  meaning “the best days in one’s life.”

In any case, we might we might console ourselves that, starting today, our days will get longer; quoth Wolfram’s Scienceworld:

The northern hemisphere winter solstice (approximately December 22) occurs when the sun is farthest south. (In the southern hemisphere, of course, winter and summer solstices are exchanged since when one hemisphere is pointed towards the Sun, the other is pointed away.) The declinations of the  Sun on the summer solstice and winter solstice are known as the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, respectively (± 23° 27′).

illustration source

For more on the various celebrations that mark the Solstice, see here.

And speaking of celebrations, here begineth your correspondent’s annual hiatus, the period when the responsibilities of the Holidays and the exigencies of travel overwhelm his (already marginal) capacity to focus…  These missives are highly likely to sputter irregularly until after the New Year…  when, for all the Readers’ sins, they will resume with their customary consistency.

Meantime, all best wishes for the Holidays and for the New Year!

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 22, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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