Ahh, December! I know it’s not technically here yet, but I’m going to be as obnoxious as hearing Christmas music before Halloween and bring it up anyway! Regardless of religion, there is an excitement in the air beginning in November because everyone knows that December is on its way. Songs start to fill the air and lights are put on display, whether they are for Christmas, Hanukkah, or other December-celebrated holidays.
December means snow, snow ball fights, holiday break, family gatherings and many other things that make the holiday special. Families drive through neighborhoods looking at light displays, winter carnivals are abundant, and wrapping parties are just another reason to gather together and have a good time. Enjoy your December, and read on for some fun!
- The Big Socio-Cultural/Religious Holidays celebrated during December include: the Christian Christmastide, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Islamic Ramadan.
- December 3rd is Let’s Hug Day.
- In December of 1803 the Louisiana Purchase took place and France sold us a big ol’ chunk of land.
- December 6th is the day many people celebrate the patron Catholic saint of children and pawnbrokers — St. Nicholas.
- The Charles Dickens classic story ‘A Christmas Carol’ was 1st published in December 6, 1843.
- In the original poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (now called “The Night Before Christmas”), the reindeer names “Donner” and “Blitzen” were actually “Dunder” and “Blixem”. There is a mystery as to who the author of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” is, but it’s agreed that the original author was Dutch, as Dunder and Blixem are the Dutch words for thunder and lightning. When it was reprinted 15 years after it was originally composed, the spellings were changed to Donder and Blitzen. The common mispronunciation Donner is just due to some carolers back in the day singing it incorrectly, much like we do with many songs of the day.
- December 17th was known for centuries, as the beginning of the Roman/Pagan Saturnalia Festival, held in honor of the God of Agriculture.
- December 21st marks the beginning of the Winter Solstice (Yule) in the Northern Hemisphere of the world.
- True Story: Festivus is now actually considered a holiday, celebrated on December 23rd. The Show About Nothing (Seinfeld) just keeps on giving…
- Although Santa Claus is now widely considered secular (people from all religions leave cookies or some other offering to him on Christmas Eve and expect gifts), he did start his life as a Catholic Bishop known for donating all his considerable wealth to the poor. The current image that we have of Santa and his elves evolved from that original poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” which combined Christian and Pagan elements (and had different reindeer names), including a saint-like man and his magical elves and reindeer.