What's In A Name?

Welcome to Halcyon Days Vintage. We are a duo based in the far North of New Zealand, aiming to pay homage to the classic shapes, styles and materials that define decades. Sourcing and rejuvenating vintage and antique clothing from the 19th century through to the mid-late 20th century, in the hope that we can inspire others to wear and showcase the art, culture, rich history and fun of vintage fashion. Our name captures the nostalgic spirit of vintage fashion and so, here we will deep dive into the essence of our name.

The English vernacular is often deeply rooted in the chronicles of history. In Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, i,” Joan of Arc’s iamb, “Expect Saint Martin’s summer, halcyon days,” makes reference to a period of unusually warm weather during late autumn. This warm spell is referred to as the halcyon days for it is nestled between and in contrast to the much cooler claws of autumn. This sixteenth century use of a phrase has much earlier documented use in English expression and the seeds of its origins are ancient.

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Halcyone (from Latin Alcyone), according to Greek mythology, became Queen of a region in ancient Greece called Trachis. Married to Ceyx, the couple were happy, fortuitous and in love. Sacrilegiously, Alcyone and Ceyx would refer to themselves as ‘Hera’ and ‘Zeus,’ for in their eyes they characterized the attributes of the Gods. Such heresy angered Zeus and his wrath was a storm that shipwrecked and killed Ceyx while he was at sea. Learning of her husband’s fate, Halcyone attempted to take her own life by throwing herself into sea. Out of compassion for such tragedy, the Gods transformed Halcyone and Ceyx into birds. Alcyone would nest and nurture her nestlings on the beach where strong waves would threaten to destroy them. Aeolus, Halcyone’s father and God of the winds, calmed the waves. He did this each year on the seven days either side of the winter solstice to keep the Halcyone, Ceyx and their eggs safe. And so, the halcyon days referred to a fourteen day period at winter’s height when storms would not occur.

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English is dynamic, taking on new form and intent. Halcyon days were a calm during winter, it disassociated with the winter solstice and became an expression to convey a period of peace and tranquillity, meteorological or otherwise. The phrase has further transformed and nowadays it is perhaps more strongly associated with a sense of nostalgia, tied to the days of our youth.

We are proud to present Halcyon Days Vintage, perhaps a fond memory of earlier days, ensnared in a golden lens. Perhaps a bright interval set in the midst of chaos, the calm betwixt storms.  Perhaps a metamorphosing of expression through time, taking on new meaning. Perhaps ensuing the wrath of the Gods.