The month called December
December month

It sounds like a cliché, but it is commonplace to hear someone gasping: “I can’t believe that it already is December!” - the month signaling the end of another year. But comes December, people will be looking forward to a well-earned holiday or events taking place.

December actually was the tenth month of the Roman calendar, when the three month long winter period in the northern hemisphere was called by this name (Latin decem = ten). When the Gregorian calendar came into use, January and February were included, and the year divided into the 12 months we know today.

When you do some research, you come to realise that December really is a special month. From 20 to 21 December the summer or winter solstice takes place, with the days starting to get longer or shorter as from midnight on the 21st, depending on the hemisphere.

A great number of special events are held in December – especially of religious nature. For Christians the 25th is Christmas, the traditional date for commemorating the birth of Christ, with its accompanying festivities. Linked to this the 5th or the 6th, is for quite a number of countries also special, when Sinterklaas Day (In the Dutch speaking countries) or Saint Nicholas Day in countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and other European countries or certain North American states is celebrated. On the evening of December 5 children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney. The next morning they will find some small presents or candy in the shoes

Thanksgiving Day in the United States (Dec. 4) is a day for giving thanks to God for blessings received during the year - a joyous family day, with big dinners and reunions, but also for church services and prayer. Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah (Feats of Dedication) from the eve of the 25th, lasting for eight days. Gifts are exchanged and contributions are made to the poor. Each evening a candle is lighted in the special eight-branched candlestick.

Apart from religious festivals, a large number of other important events take place in December, or are commemorated, such as the awarding of the Nobel Prizes in Oslo (Dec. 10), Pearl Harbour Day (Dec. 7) and the Bill of Rights Day (Dec. 15) in the USA , the Day of Reconcilliation in SA (Dec. 16), or Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

And – should one want to give a beloved one celebrating his/her birthday in December a special present, then a Turquoise gem will be appropriate, being the December Birthstone. The properties associated with it is prosperity, success, happiness and good fortune. The December Birth Flower is the Narcissus/Daffodil.

Perhaps we should reassess December for what it should be: not only the end of the year after eleven energy-sapping months, but the time of year to revitalize, to take stock of ones blessings, to strengthen ties with family and friends, and to seek renewed spiritual sustenance for the beckoning New Year.

- Manie

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