Presently December 2021 | Winter Sparkle, Christmas & Auld Land & Syne
Another year has gone swiftly by and it is indeed December already! The time of year where streets are adorned with twinkling merry lights and shops play the famous Christmas rhymes. Baking is done and Christmas puddings are well wrapped up for the glorious Christmas feast. As for shopping, some of us begin way back in February, and for some, we hold out for the best last minute bargains! Sometimes, we struggle with shopping lists and invitations due to the challenges of winter weather but some people in our lives are so worth this inconvenience.
I love the wrapping up of gifts till midnight, filling up Christmas stockings with little gems, indulging in hot chocolate and spiced cookies amidst a background of Christmas songs. Children delight in the magic that December brings. December is the month for Christmas movies, carolling and pantos. Time of celebrations, that brings family and friends together, a time of giving. A time for re-uniting old friends who gather around a fire, sharing tales of old over Bailey’s and ice!
As December is very much associated with Christmas, much of the month’s traditions and festivals are related to this special day in Christian calendar.
Let’s take a look at what Presently December has in store for you …
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Welcome to December e-column
About the month of December
With winter solstice officially on December 21, the month marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time for blue skies and summer sunshine!
For most, winter means it is the time of rain, wind and snow but the icy serenade also brings out the warmth within. The purity of snow, ringing in our merriment, inviting our feet to play and the spirit to laugh. The winter wind, and the brilliant rays brings uniqueness and excitement. Sunshine and cold. Sparkle and ice. Though cold, it feels warm even when the north wind bites.
I remain cozy within a woollen hat, snuggly scarf, and cosy footsies. Of course, there are days when I stay under the warmth of a duvet, fingers wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate. Yet, there are days, when winter takes my hand, and leads me to appreciate its beauty, allowing for quiet poetry to form in my soul. It is but the dawn of spring where flowers will soon blossom.
So, while winter is here in this December month, Presently December takes a brief look at the origins of this special month, the customs and traditions at Christmas along with December’s birthstone, flowers and lores.
Origins of December
December is the twelfth and the last month of the year in Julian and Gregorian calendars but it was originally the tenth month in the Roman calendar (until 153 BC). It’s name comes from the Latin word, “decem” which means “ten.”
For the Anglo-Saxons, the month was “winter monath” or “Yule monath” because of the tradition of burning the yule log around this time. When the Anglo-Saxons embraced Christianity, they called the month “Heligh monath” or holy month because the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated in December.
December 25 marks the mass of Christ, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago.
As such, a lot of the month’s traditions relates to Christmas. December begins with the season of Advent, a time to prepare for the Christmas feast.
Festivals, Celebrations and Traditions in December
November 28 – December 24: Advent
The word “advent” means coming and it refers to the coming of or the birth of Jesus Christ. The tradition of Advent began in the 1800s.
Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and covers four Sundays. The four Sundays usually begins with the Sunday closest to the end of November and the period of Advent goes right through to December 24.
The Advent Wreath and Candles
The Advent wreath is a circle of evergreen laid flat to symbolise to Christians of God’s eternity and endless mercy which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath symbolises hope that Christians have in God. Hope of renewal and hope of eternal life. In it, four candles plus one is placed.
The advent candles represents to Christians the light of God, coming to the world through the birth of His son, Jesus Christ. During each of the four Sundays before Christmas, it is customary to light a candle to embrace the journey of the Christmas story, and the last one, which represents Christ, is lit on Christmas Day.
The four traditional Advent theme for the candles are:
1 | The Candle of Hope – God’s people. Christians celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ;
2 | The Candle of Peace – The Old Testament Prophets. Christians celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ;
3 | Candle of Love – John the Baptist. Christians celebrate the love we have in Jesus Christ;
4 | The Candle of Joy – Mary the Mother of Jesus. Christians celebrate the joy we find in Jesus.
The 5th candle is a symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ. As Christians light this candle on Christmas Day, it reminds us that Christ is the light of the world, and if we follow him, we will have the true light of life.
December 6 — St Nicholas Day
St Nicholas is the patron saint of children. In European countries such as the Netherlands, St Nicholas bring sweets and presents to fill stockings of well behaved children. This tradition evolved to Santa Claus in the USA and Father Christmas in the UK with gift giving rounds performed later in the month.
December 17 — Lord of Misrule
The festival of Saturnalia has its origins in ancient Roman times. This was celebrated in honour of the god of agriculture and was a day event. It eventually grew to be a 7-day feasting and merrymaking beginning December 17, blending into Christmas, and Twelfth Night.
During this festival, the slaves enjoyed a holiday. They received presents, allowed to wear informal clothes, and permitted to play gambling games. They were waited on by their masters for the duration of the festival. It then became customary to appoint a ‘master’ to oversee the celebrations. In England, this character appeared as the Lord of Misrule, who presided over the entire period, sometimes beginning from Halloween (October 31) to Candlemas (February 2).
December 21 — The Winter Solstice (1st day of Winter)
The Northern Hemisphere welcomes winter officially on or near December 21.
The celebration of Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. Celebrated by the pagans, they welcome the longest night, and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun.
There are two Winter Solstice traditions worth knowing:
1 | Mistletoe and the Oak Tree
The mistletoe and the mighty oak tree are both symbolic at winter solstice. Oaks were regarded as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe that grew on them were regarded as a symbol of life during the dark wintry months. The Celtic priests would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and offer it as blessings.
2 | The Yule Log
The Druids also started a tradition with the Yule log. They thought that the sun stood still for 12 days during winter. During this time, they would lit the yule log, to conquer the darkness and to banish all evil, so good luck will come in the next year.
December 31 — New Year’s Eve
As it is the last day of the year, many sees the year out with celebrations and welcoming the new year with parties, singing, dancing, fireworks, champagne and good wishes. As the clock strikes midnight, people link their arms with each other and sing “Auld Lang Syne” — a song that reminds them of old and new friends.
Auld Lang Syne is from an old Scottish dialect and is translated to mean as “times gone by.” The song is associated with Robert Burns and is believed to be written in 1700s.
In Scotland, Hogmany is celebrated with much revelry and drinking.
It is customary to stay up late to see the year out. There is also the tradition to open the primary door of the house at the last stroke of midnight to allow the old year out and the new year in.
In Wales, there is a tradition on New Year’s Eve called Calennig. Calennig is a tradition of New Year gift giving to friends and family. A Calennig is an apple with 3 twig legs stuck with dried fruit, cloves and evergreens stuck into the top. Placing it on a window sill will bring luck to the house.
Superstitions and Lores of December
“The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune”
“Wearing new shoes on Christmas day will bring bad luck”
“Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season”
December weather lores and sayings
“A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer”
“Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green”
“If Christmas day be bright and clear;
There’ll be two winters in the year.”
Stay Connected with Timeless Travel Steps
Enjoy December moments with these beautiful quotes:
“Remember This December, That love weighs more than gold.” — Josephine Daskam Bacon
“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory….” — John Geddes
“There’s something super special about December.” — Charmaine J. Forde
The gemstone for December is Turquoise. It is regarded a love charm, symbol of good fortune and success. It is believed to bestow the wearer a relaxed mind, calm, and balanced mind as well as protection from harm.
Turquoise is opaque with a blue-green colour. Bluer stones are considered more valuable.
Zircon and Tanzanite are also considered to be December birthstones.
December birth flower
December’s flowers are the Holly and the Narcissus, both symbolising Hope.
The Holly is a symbol for domestic happiness, representing luck, fertility and truth.
While the Narcissus encompass a wide variety including the daffodil, the Paperwhite is the winter variety and is the birth flower for December.
A popular plant at Christmas brighten-up any room! December plant is the Poinsettia. Also known as the Christmas Star, the Aztecs believed it to be a symbol of purity. It represents good cheer, success and celebration also.
All about Christmas …
If you are Christmas crazy as I am, you may enjoy these posts:
What to look forward to from TTS
As 2021 draws to a close, I will be taking some time out of writing at TTS over the next few weeks. There are almost 300 articles published and I encourage you to browse through them if you are in need of some destination inspiration or simply to while away some time reading about beautiful places in Asia, USA, Scotland, Italy, the Netherlands, England or mycitymytown, London. Package holidays are one of the best ways to travel and explore in these uncertain times. You could keep abreast with special offers and plan ahead for 2022/2023 vacations.
I shall be catching-up with friends I hadn’t caught-up with since two Christmas’ ago (we all know what happened last Chrsitmas!) and doing all the things I usually do at Christmas – shopping, movies, baking, planning, my yummy Christmas cake, red wine, Baileys & ice, maybe some port, reading and just chill!
I very much look forward to 2022 and am excited what it may hold for TTS as it goes/grows from strength to strength which would not be possible without your support. I am grateful for the time each of you take to read, to comment, to get in touch and share my stories with family, friends and on social media. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THAT YOU DO TO SUPPORT TIMELESS TRAVEL STEPS and I.
TTS returns with new publication in January. Stay tuned.
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While I love all things Christmas, and as a Christian, I am thankful for a blessed year. I am also mindful that 2021 has not been a ‘good’ year for many, challenging normalcy as we know it.
Some of us have lost loved ones, and Christmas will not be the same without them. Losses comes in many forms, not just in the passing of our dearly beloved, but also separation and break-ups. While missing someone we love is one of the hardest emotions to overcome, we must take the time we need to heal our sorrow. Take all the time we need, there is no need to hurry. We are, our “best friend” we could count on. Slowly, and surely we press on with courage, for whatever the future holds, we must trust, believe, move forwards and upwards, knowing that we are not alone and are watched over from above.
As we look to the new year, hold on to what is good. Treasure those beautiful memories. Let go of what is bad. Embrace travel — it always has answers even in silence.
We will be okay.
Wishing ALL our family, friends, patrons, supporters and readers a “Very Special & Merry Christmas 2021” and if you do not celebrate Christmas, enjoy the “Very best of Winter Holidays with family & friends.” Have an awesome New Year’s Eve, wherever you are on our beautiful Earth.
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Thank you so much, Ade. I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories in 2022. Have a wonderful Christmas also.
What a wonderful blog on which to end the year. It has been a delight to follow them this year, to learn a lot and to use them in planning trips, not least the London lights. Thank you for each one this year, enjoy some rest and Merry Christmas.
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