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November 22 - December 21
December 22 - January 19
More December lore: here
|December is the twelfth and
final month of the Gregorian calendar and the first month of
winter. It derives it's name from the Latin word decem, meaning
ten, as December was the tenth month of the oldest Roman calendar.
The Latin name is derived from Decima, the middle Goddess of
the Three Fates who personifies the present.
December was originally the 10th month in the Roman calendar.
The period of January and February didn't really count as
months, and the Roman calendar was based on a 304 day year,
based on the approximate lunar month of 29 1/2 days.
The inventor of the 304 day calendar was Romulus, twin brother
of Remus - the same Romulus and Remus who founded Rome aroung
| The Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter,
occurs around December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern hemisphere,
and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. It occurs on the
shortest day or longest night of the year, sometimes said to
astronomically mark the beginning or middle of a hemisphere's
The word solstice derives from Latin, Winter Solstice meaning
Sun set still in winter. Worldwide, interpretation of the
event varies from culture to culture, but most hold a recognition
of rebirth, involving festivals, gatherings, rituals or other
celebrations. Many cultures celebrate or celebrated a holiday
near the winter solstice; examples of these include Christmas,
Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Pongal, Yalda and many other
festivals of light.
The solstice itself may have remained a special moment of
the annual cycle of the year since neolithic times. This is
attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic
and Bronze Age archeological sites like Stonehenge and New
Grange in the British Isles. The primary axes of both of these
monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line
framing the winter solstice sunrise (New Grange) and the winter
solstice sunset (Stonehenge). The winter solstice may have
been immensely important because communities were not assured
to live through the winter, and had to be prepared during
the previous nine months.
Starvation was common in winter between January to April,
also known as the famine months. In temperate climes, the
midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before
deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would
not have to be fed during the winter, so it was nearly the
only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available.
The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally
fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration
of the observances were not always on the day commencing at
midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized
day, which falls on the previous eve.
"The Holly King, represents the Death aspect of the
God at this time of year; and the Oak King, represents the
opposite aspect of Rebirth (these roles are reversed at Midsummer).
This can be likened to the Divine Child's birth. The myth
of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids
to whom these two trees were highly sacred.
The Oak King (God of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King
(God of the Waning Year) at Yule (the Winter Solstice). The
Oak King then reigns supreme until Litha (the Summer Solstice)
when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King victorious.
Examples of the Holly King's image can be seen in our modern
"I heard a bird sing in the dark of December
A magical thing and sweet to remember.
'We are nearer to Spring than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing in the dark of December."
- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing
"How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its
afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how
the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?"
- Dr. Seuss
"A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were
Now the days go by so fast"
- Counting Crows, A Long December
"My favorite traditional Christmas movie that I like
to watch is All Quiet on the Western Front. It's just not
December without that movie in my house."
- Tom Hanks
"God gave us our memories so that we might have roses
- J. M. Barrie
"As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations,
compounded by december's bad weather, it is good to be reminded
that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation,
and people to whom we are worth the same."
- Donald E. Westlake
"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly, I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Leonore
For the rare and radiant maiden who the angels name Lenore
Nameless here for evermore."
- Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
Its too early. I never eat december snowflakes. I always
wait until January.
"All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I went for a walk on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A. California dreamin'
On such a winter's day."
- Mammas and Pappas, California Dreamin
"The gardening season officially begins on January 1st,
and ends on December 31."
- Marie Huston