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The Twelfth Month of the Year

December is the twelfth month of the year according to the Gregorian and Julian calendars. The word December is derived from the Latin word "Decem" which means ten. December was originally the tenth month on the early Roman calendar but when January and February were added around 46 B.C., it became the twelfth month.

As one of the numbered months, the name December was not changed to reflect it's position as the twelfth month on the calendar. Originally, December had 29 days but two more days were added to make it one of the seven months that have 31 days.

December is cool and wet in much of the northern hemisphere. Winter begins around the 21st or 22nd of the month but it usually not as cold as the following winter months. In the southern hemisphere, December is equivalent June, making it the beginning of Summer. In many areas in the southern hemisphere, December is hot and humid.

In the northern hemisphere, December has the shortest daylight hours of the year while in the southern hemisphere, it has the longest daylight hours.

The birth flower for December is the Narcissus. The Narcissus implies modesty, faithfulness, and respect. It is a bulb plant that blooms in the spring with white or yellow flowers. The name Narcissus is taken from Narke, a Greek word meaning being in a stupor or numb. Some think it may be in reference to the poisonous nature of the Narcissus bulb.

Turquoise is the birthstone for December. It is a gemstone known for it's beauty when shaped and polished. Turquoise takes it's name from Turquie, French for Turkey, in reference to the early Turkish trade routes. It symbolizes prosperity and is considered a stone of friendship, for the turquoise is said to promote faithfulness and constancy in relationships.

Important December Events:

  • The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 21, 1620.
  • The Boston Tea Party was staged on December 16, 1773.
  • Amendment 13 to the U.S. Constitution, a proclamation ending slavery, was proclaimed on December 18, 1865.
  • Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. It officially brought the United States into World War II.
  • On December 2, 1942, the first controlled atomic chain reaction was achieved.

The 12 months of the year:

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