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December is the twelfth and final month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Its length is 31 days.

December, from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry

December’s name derives from the Latin word decem (meaning ten) because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC, which began in March. The winter days following December were not included as part of any month. Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.[1][2]

In Ancient Rome, as one of the four Agonalia, this day in honour of Sol Indiges was held on December 11, as was Septimontium. Dies natalis (birthday) was held at the temple of Tellus on December 13, Consualia was held on December 15, Saturnalia was held December 17–23, Opiconsivia was held on December 19, Divalia was held on December 21, Larentalia was held on December 23, and the dies natalis of Sol Invictus was held on December 25. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

The Anglo-Saxons referred to December–January as Ġēolamonaþ (modern English: "Yule month"). The French Republican Calendar contained December within the months of Frimaire and Nivôse.


Month December depicted in Hans Bol's and Adriaen Collart's Emblematica Evangelica.

December contains the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day with the fewest daylight hours, and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, the day with the most daylight hours (excluding polar regions in both cases). December in the Northern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent to June in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. In the Northern hemisphere, the beginning of the astronomical winter is traditionally 21 December or the date of the solstice.

Meteor showers occurring in December are the Andromedids (September 25 – December 6, peaking around November 9), the Canis-Minorids (December 4 – December 15, peaking around December 10–11), the Coma Berenicids (December 12 to December 23, peaking around December 16), the Delta Cancrids (December 14 to February 14, the main shower from January 1 to January 24, peaking on January 17), the Geminids (December 13–14), the Monocerotids (December 7 to December 20, peaking on December 9. This shower can also start in November), the Phoenicids (November 29 to December 9, with a peak occurring around 5/6 December), the Quadrantids (typically a January shower but can also start in December), the Sigma Hydrids (December 4–15), and the Ursids (December 17-to December 25/26, peaking around December 22).


The zodiac signs for the month of December are Sagittarius (until December 21) and Capricorn (December 22 onward).[3][4]


Yellow narcissus flower
Yellow narcissus flower

December's birth flower is the narcissus. Its birthstones are turquoise, zircon and tanzanite.

A slab of turquoise
A slab of turquoise
Rough and polished tanzanite
Rough and polished tanzanite


A Christmas tree at the Eaton Centre in Toronto. Christmas is traditionally celebrated on December 25 every year.
A Christmas tree at the Eaton Centre in Toronto.

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.


(All Baháʼí, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin at the sundown prior to the date listed, and end at sundown of the date in question unless otherwise noted.)



Tuesday immediately following fourth Thursday of November

First Friday

First Sunday

Second Monday

December 15, unless the date falls on a Sunday, then December 16

Winter Solstice

December 22, unless that date is a Sunday, in which case the 23rd

December 26, unless that day is a Sunday, in which case the 27th


A Christmas market in Dresden


  1. ^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, tr. Percival Vaughan Davies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), book I, chapters 12–13, pp. 89–95.
  2. ^ "December" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. VII (9th ed.). 1878. p. 19.
  3. ^ The Earth passes the junction of the signs at 10:02 UT/GMT December 21, 2020, and will pass it again at 15:59 UT/GMT December 21, 2021.
  4. ^ "Astrology Calendar", yourzodiacsign. Signs in UT/GMT for 1950–2030.

See also