What Does Halcyon Days Mean?


Halcyon Days Meaning

Definition: A peaceful time.

Nowadays, people often use this expression to refer to their past, especially their childhood, in a nostalgic way.

Origin of Halcyon Days

This expression has its origins in a Greek myth. A woman named Alcyone was so upset when her husband died at sea that she threw herself into the sea. She wanted to die as well. However, her father was the ruler of the wind. Rather than dying, she turned into a bird that could fly over the sea.

This bird could make a nest out over the sea, and the winds remained calm for 14 days in order for the eggs to hatch. People began to call this period of calm, in December, halcyon days.

The popular English playwright William Shakespeare popularized this term in the late 1500s when he used it in Henry VI, Part 1. By this time, it meant a tranquil period, and most people did not associate it with the bird specifically.

Examples of Halcyon Days

halycon daysIn this dialogue, two employees are comparing their current job to the job they had as teenagers.

Deanna: Do you remember when we used to work as summer camp counselors?

Emily: Of course! It was amazing. I loved those long days of summer spent at the fishing hole, riding horses, and taking long strolls through the forest with the campers.

Deanna: It was much nicer than our current job, which is so hectic.

Emily: How I long for those halcyon days of our youth.

halcion days In the second example, two baseball players are discussing the stress of playing on a competitive team.

Billy: I’m not sure I can continue to play for this team.

Angie: Why not?

Billy: I just joined the team for the love of the sport. When I was young, I used to play pickup games of baseball with the other kids on my street. Those summer days filled with baseball were so peaceful and fun! Now that I’m playing competitively, it’s not fun anymore. It’s just stressful.

Angie: Do you think you’ll reclaim the halcyon days of your childhood by quitting this team?

Billy: Maybe. Maybe not. But I’d like to find out.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a company’s stock that dropped quite a bit.

  • Back in the halcyon days of early 2014, Cumulus stock was trading at $64.04. Now things are in tatters, and a Nasdaq delisting looms — as does a possible bankruptcy. –New York Post

This excerpt is from an article about an event featuring classic cars and races.

  • Visitors dressed in period costume attend the Goodwood Revival festival, celebrating the halcyon days of British motor racing, at Goodwood race circuit in south England, September 8, 2017. –New York Daily News


The term halcyon days refers to a calm period in one’s life, often in the summer of one’s childhood.