Daily Calendar for Saturday, December 14, 2024

Halcyon Days, which have come to mean any time of happiness and contentment, are actually the 14 days around the winter solstice. According to Greek legend, the halcyon, or kingfisher, built its floating nest around the 14th of December, during which time the gods calmed the seas for the nesting and hatching time.

Where did “Halcyon Days” come from? The bird’s name derives from a myth recorded by Ovid. According to the story, Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, had a daughter named Alcyone, who was married to Ceyx, the king of Thessaly. It’s a longer story but let’s just say that it ends tragically with Ceyx drowning at sea. Grieving Alcyone was about to throw herself into the sea to join her beloved husband. But the gods took pity on the pair, transforming them into halcyons, with the power to still the stormy seas for 14 days near the time of the winter solstice while they hatched their young. (For this reason, mariners credit the kingfisher, or “alcyon bird,” with the power to calm storms and raging seas.)

The “Halcyon Days” usually end by early January. Today, the phrase “Halcyon Days” has come to mean a sense of peace or tranquility. People often use the phrase halcyon days to refer idyllically to a calmer, more peaceful time in their past. It’s also a fitting phrase for the peaceful, joyful spirit of the Christmas holidays today.

Question of the Day

Who were the Know-Nothings?
The Know-Nothings were members of a secret political group that sprouted in the 1800s amid anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. They organized to keep foreign-born citizens from holding political office and to promote other anti-immigrant and anti-Roman Catholic activities. This was in response to the approximately 5 million immigrants, many of them Roman Catholics, who arrived in the United States between 1825 and 1855. Know-Nothings went by names such as the Order of the Sons of America in Pennsylvania and the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner in New York. They came to be called Know-Nothings because they operated clandestinely and always answered “I don’t know” when questioned about their activities. Under the banner of the American Party in the mid-1850s, Know-Nothing candidates were elected governor in states as geographically diverse as Massachusetts, California, and Kentucky.

Advice of the Day

Save the water from cooking pasta to water houseplants. They’ll love it.

Home Hint of the Day

If your door has a problem with hinge screw holes that are too loose to hold the screws, insert a sliver of wood with each screw. A wooden matchstick or toothpick works well. Put the matchstick in butt end first, then break off the head.

Word of the Day

The state of Iowa may have received its name from a Native American word meaning “beautiful land.”

Puzzle of the Day

What would the captain of a ship do if he had no eggs?
Lay to (two).


  • George Washington (1st U.S. president)
  • Prince Albert (husband and Prince Consort of Queen Victoria)
  • Roger Maris (baseball player)
  • Peter O'Toole (actor)
  • Alan Thicke (actor)


  • Frances Bavier (actress)
  • Spike Jones (comedian & musician)
  • Mel Bartholomew (construction engineer and gardener known for his Square Foot Gardening method)
  • Charlie Rich (musician)
  • Patty Duke (actress)
  • KaDee Strickland (actress)
  • Vanessa Hudgens (actress)


  • First recorded meteorite in the New World fell in Weston, Connecticut
  • Alabama is admitted to the Union as the 22nd state
  • First expedition reached the South Pole, led by Roald Amundsen
  • Tilt-a-Whirl trademark registered
  • Diplogen suggested for isotope name
  • National Velvet, a film featuring a young Elizabeth Taylor, premiered in New York
  • Captain Sue Dauser, Navy Nurse Corps, received the Distinguished Service Medal
  • Scotchguard carpet treatment patented
  • The film Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, premiered in New York City. This film is credited with accelerating the disco craze
  • Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, announced he would retire
  • The Millau Viaduct, the highest bridge in the world, was formally opened in France
  • 5.6-lb. avocado grown in Kahului, Hawaii, set world record for heaviest


  • A major cold wave across the country marked the beginning of one of the most severe winters in U.S. history
  • The temperature at Helena, Montana, fell 79 degrees in 24 hours

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