Today is St. Spyridon’s Day. Spyridon is the patron saint of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Kephalonia (for the geographically challenged, these are Ionian Islands, off the west coast of Greece). Shepherd turned bishop, he’s the patron saint of potters due to a miracle involving a shard of pottery; he was using it to explain the Holy Trinity (one entity made of three: air, water and clay) when it burst into flame. He was said to have performed other miracles, including saving Corfu from invaders with a lighted torch. He is honored with processions and lots of candles.
Halcyon Days begins today and runs through December 28. The ancient Greeks called the seven days preceding and the seven days following Winter Solstice the Halcyon Days, from a myth in which the halcyon bird, or kingfisher, nested during this time on the water. The gods granted her a respite from storms so she could hatch and rear her young, so Halcyon Days have come to mean a time of tranquility and peace.
Today, Halcyon Days is mostly celebrated by people exhausted by the hype of December holidays, who wish to engage in some peace and quiet.