December’s name has its origins from the Latin name decem, meaning ten, because it was originally the tenth month in the Roman calendar.
December on the whole is almost completely overwhelmed by different holiday customs and traditions, with little focus on anything else. There are many different religious holidays throughout December. The first week of Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, and December 7 marks the beginning of Hanukkah, with its eight day Festival of Lights. December 8 is Bodhi Day in the Buddhist calendar, celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment.
St. Lucia Day falls on December 13 which has also long been associated with festivals of light. A woman named Lucia, which means light, was born to a noble and prosperous family. Lucia’s father died when she was young and she was raised by her mother in the Christian tradition. Lucia’s mother became ill and Lucia promised God that if her mother was healed, she vowed to remain unmarried and devote her life to God. Lucia’s mother was healed. Lucia convinced her mother to give her inheritance, which would have been her dowry, to the poor. Lucia’s suitor was furious, not only had he lost beautiful Lucia, but her generous dowry as well. The suitor reported Lucia to the government as being a witch and helping the Christians. Lucia was called before a judge, and was killed because she refused to denounce the Christian faith. Lucia was one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia was killed by the Romans in 304 CE. According to Swedish legend, after Lucia’s death a ship carrying a maiden “clothed in white and crowned with light” appeared during great famine. St. Lucia distributed food and clothing to the needy, thus endearing herself to the Swedish people. In Sweden, Lucia symbolizes the end of the long winter nights and the return of light to the world.
December 28 has been considered to be the unluckiest day of the Christian calendar for thousands of years. At one time, the day known as The Feast of the Holy Innocents was considered cursed. The origins of this superstition lie in the story of Jesus Christ. It was on this day that King Herod ordered that all baby boys be put to death in an attempt to kill Jesus Christ. Until the seventeenth century, it was believed that ritually beating a child with a stick on December 28, brought the beater good luck and reminded the child of both King Herod’s viciousness and the suffering of Jesus. Catholics still observe December 28 with prayers and readings referencing King Herod’s slaughter of babies.
There are four birth stones for the month of December, all four are blue in color. Blue gem stones are considered very spiritual as they represent both the color of the heavens and life-giving water. Blue stones in general are thought to provide vitality both physically and emotionally. Turquoise is the traditional birth stone of December. Turquoise is believed to symbolize prosperity, love, and good fortune. Blue Zircon is thought to ward off evil spirits, aid sleep, and enhance the wearer’s intuition. It also possesses a protective aura. Tanzanite is a transformative gemstone that facilitates inner calm and stimulates psychic abilities. Blue topaz is believed to help relieve stress, soothe sore throats, and body aches and pains.
On December 30, 1803, the United States essentially doubled in size when it formally took control of Louisiana. The U.S. acquired the territory of Louisiana, some 885,000 square miles from France through the Louisiana Purchase costing the U.S. government 15 million dollars.
December’s flower is the Narcissus. The fragrant narcissus usually blooms in spring, the paperwhite species blooms in winter. Narcissus means hope and joy.
Those born in December, the final fire sign of the zodiac, Sagittarius are unlike any other sign, they are totally unique. Sagittarians are faithful, intelligent, forceful, and sympathetic. They are one-of-a-kind, gifted, and wise beyond their years. Freedom is one of the most obvious attributes of a Sagittarius. More than any other sign, a Sagittarius values independence and the ability to do what they want, when they want, above all else. Those born under the sign of Sagittarius are among the most imaginative people on the globe. They are known for their emotional intelligence which helps them connect with others. Sagittarius’ ruling planet is Jupiter , the planet of abundance. Jupiter is all about excess, it expands anything it touches. Sagittarius are natural leaders, they are fun, playful, and extremely philosophical.
For millennia, Full Moons have wielded a magnetic charm that has seized human hearts and minds. Across diverse cultures and eras, this consistent monthly event has been the inspiration behind innumerable myths, tales, and traditions. December’s full Moon on Tuesday, December 26 is called the Cold Moon, a Mohawk name that conveys the frigid conditions this time of year. The moon will appear high and full on Christmas Day. It is the first full Moon after the solstice and it will be above the horizon for longer than most full Moons.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.