Blog ENG, Culture & Travel, The Herbarium of Rhodes
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‘Alkyonides’ days

I have already highlighted the beauty and the specialty of winter on a Greek island in this post. But I haven’t mentioned so far this lovely period called Alkyonides meres / Αλκυονίδες μέρες in Greek – in English ‘Kingfisher days’ – which is another reason to visit Greece off season.

 

Greek winter could be pretty chilly and windy, but nearly every year during the Alkyonides meres, which is a meteorological phenomenon of the central Greek climate, there is a lovely period of windless days with clear blue sky and mild temperatures which can reach up to 20°C, or even more! Alkyonides meres could take place from 15th December to 15th February each, but most often between January 16-31.

Living on Rhodes (on the sunniest island of Greece) it is never a surprise if we have a strong sunshine, but usually during these days the temperature rises here too. It happened in the previous weeks that we had to turn off the heating, we did not have to make fire in the fireplace. More people were swimming in the sea than usually. We always have the winter swimmers who go everyday to swim in the Aegean, but these days allowed others to dip in the water too.

But why does this phenomenon happen?

Greeks have a beautiful myth to explain it. Okay, they have more myths, different versions, but let’s see the most common one:

alkyonides days

Ceyx and Alcyone

Once upon a time Ceyx, the king of Thessaly had fallen in love with the beautiful Alcyone (daughter of Aeolus, god of the winds). Their love was so passionate, legendary all over the ancient land. While they were madly in love, they called each other: “My God” and “My Goddess”. They considered their love as a sacred love. Of course Zeus had heard about this also, and he didn’t like the fact that they were calling each other “God” and “Goddess”. He became very angry, because he considered it as a disrespect and he wanted to punish the couple.

One day Ceyx was sailing to Delphi. Zeus took the chance and created a very heavy storm on the sea, so the ship of Ceyx sank and Ceyx got drowned. His last thought was his beloved Alcyone and with his last breath he prayed for Poseidon (the God of the sea) to take his body back to his lover. That night Alcyone saw his lover in her dream in the big storm sinking in the sea. She was terrified and when she woke up in the morning she was running to the rocks by the sea, where she was searching for her lover. Ceyx’s body was approaching the shores and when Alcyone saw him, she threw herself into the Aegean sea too. At that moment the gods of the Olympus were so disappointed about the tragic death of the couple, so Zeus changed his mind and decided to transform the couple into Halcyon birds. And this bird lays her eggs each year in January on the beach and nests near to the sea. But Alcyone was not able to make nests because of the huge waves and wind of the winter. Zeus finally decided to change the weather for a few weeks for the couple in order to be able to make nests even during winter. He stopped the wind, so there were no waves, but mild weather and sunny days. And that’s why we call them Alkyonides days, when these birds are laying their eggs.

bird

Halcyon bird – the Kingfisher

For the ones who are not so romantic, here is the meteorological explanation of Alkyonides meres: “the Alkyonides Days are created as a result of the latitude of Greece during these days of the winter, heightened barometric pressure, combined with no wind, cool temperatures, and intense sunshine.”xpatathens.com

Why do we love Alkyonides days?

These are the days when Greeks enjoy sunshine on the terraces of cafés and kafeneios…

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Kafeneio in Mandriko village

These are the days when we celebrate good local food on the terraces of the village tavernas…

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Kattavia village – village bread and salad by Mama Sofia

These are the days when we do the orange, lemon and tangerine harvest…

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Tangerine tree in Kattavia village

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Orange tree in Archangelos village

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Lemon tree in Rhodes town

And these are the days when we make our divine orange jams with the local herb, rodostamia

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Oranges & tangerines from Archangelos

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Cooking my first local orange jam

These are the days when you enjoy the orange-pink sunsets from the mountains…

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Sunset from Kritinia Panorama

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Sunset from Kritinia Panorama

These are the days when you will find blooming melissohorto…

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Melissohorto for tea, from the local market

… blooming rosemary bushes…

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Rosemary bushes at Filerimos

… wild Narcissus flowers…

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Wild Narcissus at Filerimos

… blooming lemon trees with pink flowers…

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Lemon tree in Archangelos

You will still find some blooming bougainvillea trees…

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Bougainvillea trees around the walls of the Old Town of Rhodes

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Bougainvillea on an olive tree at Filerimos

These are the days when you see golden light in the mornings and calm see at the ‘limani’ (=harbour)…

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Rhodes, Kolona harbour

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Rhodes, Mandraki harbour

These are the days, when you eat a lot of pomegranate /’rodi’…

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Table after local market on Rhodes

These are the days when you make a trip to your beach house and enjoy the sweet sunshine by the rocks…

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… where you do yoga in the fresh air and having your breakfast on your yoga mat…

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These are the days when you visit the colorful villages and taking new photos in the winter sunshine…

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Archangelos village, Rhodes island

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Kritinia village, Rhodes island

And these are the days when you sleap in such a moonshine…

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And so much more…

 

 

by

//EN// I am a Hungarian woman living on the Greek Dodecanese archipelago where I have been researching the characteristics of the local landscape and culture since 2015. This journey and work on the Aegean sea gives me the fuel to share what I've found: through written materials (on this blog and at other venues), and to create artworks of pressed flowers and herbs which is a great botano-mythical journey, a worship in the great temple of Mother nature that widens my whole world each day a bit more. My interests: human integrity, interactions between a culture and an individual, recognizing and understanding nature's orderly movements and the cosmic patterns in the human (body and psyche) and their interconnectedness with the non-human world, mythology & archetypes, the Great Mother archetype, women's health, and healing through rebonding with nature (especially with the plant world). //HU// Főként a szavak és a képek nyelvén közlő, önálló utat kijárni próbáló, gondolkodó, örökösen válaszokat kereső embernek tartom magamat. Jelenleg Rodosz szigetén élek, ahol 2015 óta próbálom megfejteni a Mediterránum ezen szegletének (engem mágnesként fogva tartó) géniuszát a helyi természetben, szociokulturális vonásokban, egyéni történetekben - valamint próbálom megfejteni saját folytonosan formálódó viszonyulásomat e költészettől parázsló tájhoz, annak ambivalens jelenkori kultúrájához. Ez a kimeríthetetlen felfedező munka lett írásaim (és egyben önismeretem) epicentruma. A Rodoszi Herbárium pedig a görög szigetek természeti gazdagságának és éteri szépségének egyszerre megidézési- és megismerési kísérlete. A helyi növények gyűjtésével, préselésével és képekké alakításával nem csak a teremtés szépségében gyönyörködöm, hanem segít kapcsolódnom a fény útjához, a vegetáció diverzitásához és ritmusához, mitikus történetek, archaikus elfeledett bölcsességekhez, tudattalanomban szunnyadó képekhez, kozmikus analógiákhoz, és mindezen keresztül saját lényegemhez.

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