The 14th Day Before Yule – Halcyon Days begin
Halcyon Days begin – The Halcyon Days are the seven days before and the seven days after (or some say the seven days surrounding) the winter solstice, when the weather is supposed to be calm and storms never occur. The name comes from Greek myth, reported by both Ovid and Hyginus.
Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, and married Ceyx, son of Eosphorus, the Morning Star. They were very happy together but made the mistake of blasphemously calling each other Zeus and Hera. Not surprisingly, this made Zeus very angry and he threw a thunderbolt at Ceyx’s ship, as he was sailing to consult an oracle. Ceyx appeared to Alcyone as a ghost, and in grief, she threw herself into the sea. Out of compassion, the gods changed them into halcyon birds (kingfishers). During the Halcyon Days, Alcyone the kingfisher lays her eggs, and her father, the god of winds, ensures that they are safe. The Mediterranean is typically calm around the time of the winter solstice. The dried body of a kingfisher was used as a talisman against lightning.
Ember Days (moveable) -The Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after December 13th are Ember Days, when Catholics say special prayers for the clergy.
Rural Dionysion – The ancient Greeks celebrated this holiday around the time of the full moon in the month of Poseidon. Plutarch complained that the rustic festival he remembered from his youth, featuring a jar of wine, a vine, a goat, a basket of raisins and a depiction of a phallus had been replaced with an elaborate procession featuring gold vessels, decorated horses and people wearing costumes and masks. This was a time for revelry including bawdy songs and raucous game.
—Anna Franklin, Yule (The Eight Sabbats)