Alkyonides days – even the weather in Greece originates from myth

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What do I mean by Alkyonides days?

Weather phenomenon

This weather phenomenon in January & February in Greece is referred to as “Alkyonides.” Sitting in cafes drinking coffee, people will remark on the high temperatures in early February, accompanied by “Ahhhh, Alkyonides” with a knowing nod.  In fact, sitting having coffee in a cafe is exactly where I first heard of the term.

Mythology

In mythology, The Alkyonides were the seven daughters of Alcyoneus.  Their father was slain by Heracles and when this happened, the seven daughters threw themselves into the sea (as you do) and were transformed into halcyons – kingfishers.

“What’s this got to do with unseasonably warm days in February in Greece?” one might ask.  Ah ha!…
There are some small, rocky islands in the Corinthian Gulf, very close to Athens and they’re named after these mythological daughters.  Every year, birds can be seen flocking to these islands, usually a few days before the weather heats up.  The witness of these birds flocking to the Alkyonides Islands usually indicates a spell of warmer weather…the islands are particularly warm.

Alkyonides islands
Alkyonides islands
Source: http://www.zougla.gr/sismoi/article/sismos-42r-stis-alkionides

So there you have it!  Even the weather in Greece can stem from mythology.

Photo by Sergey Yeliseev

4 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, Bex, what a lovely subject!!! And quite romantic from my point of view since, if you don’t mind, I’ll mention another related myth, that I was brought up with: Alkyoni, the daughter of Aiolos the god of winds, was married to Kyix and the two were utterly in love and happy. They lived by the sea and lived of it. On a winter’s day Kyix decided to go fishing but the weather was getting worse by the minute. Alkyoni stood by the sea calling him but as he turned the boat around to reach her, the waves overcame the boat and he drowned. Alkyoni in utter despair, though she was pregnant, through herself over the cliffs and drowned too. Zeus seeing such love and despair, decided to save them by transforming them to sea-birds (the birds that hold their names respectively) so that their love could live on forever. Moreover, he decided to allow a few days of good weather in the heart of winter so that Alkyoni would give birth (lay her eggs now that she was a bird) on the island rocks. So from then on every year around the appointed time when alkyones come to lay their eggs on the islands that you’ve mentioned, the weather always welcomes them and allows them to hatch their eggs…(of course now we know that the birds come because of the few days of good weather but what’s life without a little romance..? 😉 )

  2. Oh Nancy! You brought a tear to my eye, literally! I love how there is a story behind most things in Greece – and yours is lovely too. Thanks so much for sharing…it’s truly beautiful, as I’m sure my readers will also agree :0)

  3. Hi Bex,

    Thanks for your explanations as regards this strange weather phenomenon! A colleague of mine from Greece came into the cold London Office today and remarked it had been Alkyonides days in Greece. He gave me a brief explanation – but I had to check on the web and so found your post. I do indeed think its all very romantic. Typical greek? (-;
    Ole

    • Thanks Ole – glad I could be of assistance :0) I actually wrote this post last year – this year Alkyonides has come in Jan and it’s been anything between 16 and 19 degrees C in the daytime!

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