Beth Owlsdaughter has a lovely post about the Halcyon Days. (So does Waverly!) These are the days before and after Winter Solstice when winds and waves stay calm so that Mother Kingfisher can breed in a nest that floats upon the sea. It’s become a phrase that describes a time of idyllic warmth, happiness and peace that’s over before we know it, that we long for through a haze of nostalgia. (Of course kingfishers don’t really lay their eggs upon the water, but they do build their nests in cliffs and bluffs nearby, so I guess there’s a bit of natural history to the myth.)
If I were Empress of the World, I’d institute the Halcyon Days every December. I’d proclaim that during the week before and the week after Winter Solstice, no one is encouraged to do “regular” work or “normal” activities. Instead, the time would be spent partly in self-reflection, musing on the year gone by and the year to come. The rest of the time, we’d gather with family and tribe, in small groups and large, to revel and rejoice, make music and tell stories, and drive the dark away. (Hecate has a great post about why we need to do this at Winter Solstice.)
But alas, such is not to be in our modern lives. Instead, we have Halcyon Moments and Halcyon Evenings and — if we’re lucky — Halcyon Weekends.
Here on the island, we’ve had a couple of Halcyon Weekends already. The weekend before last was our annual 3-day Lucia Party, extended a bit to 5 days this time with some folks arriving two days ahead of time and one guest, our lovely Welsh-Canadian friend Carol, staying two days after. (And I wouldn’t have it any other way!) Craig and I realized that the Lucia parties have become both the beginning and the peak of our holiday festivities, and we’re thinking we need to go back to having it on the Saturday that is closest to St Lucia’s Day, December 13th. This year the 8th was just a little too soon in the month. The 15th would have been better.
In any case, we followed our Halcyon Weekend of Revelry with a Halcyon Weekend of Quiet and Snuggling. Craig and I cocooned last weekend, with rain pouring down outside and candles and fireplace cozily lit inside. Twinkling lights on the tree and windowsills and all that. We cuddled and talked and made plans for the new house and watched a DVD of the BBC production of A Child’s Christmas in Wales. (Very lovely but I still like reading it out loud better. Dylan Thomas’ prose is enough to throw one into fits of ecstasy.) We watched the film Waitress too, which isn’t about Yule, but does have an amusing twist to the famiiar mother-and-child theme, and is funny and witty and sad and warming to boot.
This coming Friday night, Solstice Night, I’ll gather with a few sisters and we’ll light candles and tell stories about the Return of the Sun, and toast each other and the Year to Come with Amaretto and Bailey’s and Peppermint Schapps (not altogether!)
What kind of Halcyon moments are you having? And how are you marking the Solstice this year?
May the Star of Wonder illuminate your long, dark nights.