01 December 2011


Image from Pam's Clipart

“Like the three preceding months, December derives its name from the place which it held in the old Roman calendar, which divided the year into ten months, December (the tenth) being the last.  The ancient Saxons called this the Wintermonath, or Winter Month, but after their conversion to Christianity they changed the name to Halig Monath, or Holy Month, in honor of the Christmas anniversary on the 25th.” Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 324

Astronomy for December:
The full moon on the 10th is the Cold Moon or Hunting Moon.

Solstice occurs at 12:30 am (EST) on December 22.

Meteor Showers
The Geminid Meteor Shower peaks on the nights of December 13 – 14. The waning moon will wash out this usually spectacular display, but watch anyway.  EarthSky says that you can start watching around 9 pm, although the best viewing will be after midnight.

The Ursid Meteor Shower , when it takes place (and it doesn’t always), runs from December 17 through 25, but the peak is on December 22-23.  There will be no moon to interfere with viewing, should it take place.  Best watching is in the predawn hours.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire and Christmas treat.

Weather for December:
Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Sunny, blue skies, warm.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Big snowstorm! BIG! High winds and a LOT of SNOW!
Based on the Ember Days: Overcast to start, then sunny, then cloudy.
The last Sunday of the month indicates the weather for next month: Clear, brilliant, sunny, and cool.  This is a gift.
Weather Lore for December:
December cold with snow is good for rye.

December’s frost and January’s flood
Never boded the husbandman good.

Thunder in December presages fine weather.

Thunder in December signifieth cheapness of corn and wheat, with peace and accord among the people.

12/2: If it rains on St. Bibiana’s day, it will rain for forty days and a week.

12/4: If it rains on the first Sunday of the month before Mass, it will rain for a week.

         If it storms on the first Sunday of the month, it will storm every Sunday that month.

12/13: If St. Lucy’s day be bright, Christmas day will be dark with snow; but if the snow falls on St. Lucy, Christmas will be clear and sunny.

           The weather on each of the twelve days from St. Lucy to Christmas Eve presages the weather for the twelve months in the coming year.

12/15: Halcyon Days begin.

12/21: Look at a weathercock at 12:00 noon on St. Thomas’ Day and see which way the wind is – for there it will stay for the next (lunar) quarter.

          Frost on the shortest day is said to indicate a severe winter.

          If it freezes on the shortest day of the year, the price of corn will fall;
          If it be mild weather, the price of corn will go up.

12/24: As the weather is on St. Adam and Eve, so will it be until the end of the month, and also will be mostly throughout the next year.

          If Christmas Eve is bright and clear, then follows a very fruitful year.

          When on Christmas night and evening it is very fair and clear weather, and is without wind and rain, then it is a token that this year will have plenty of wine and fruit.
          If it is foul weather and windy, so shall the year be very scant of wine and fruit.
          If the wind should arise at the rising of the sun, then there will be a great dearth of cattle.
          If the wind should arise at the setting of the sun, then there will come death to kings and other leaders.
12/25: The last Sunday of the month foretells the weather of the following month.

          If the sun shines clear and bright on Christmas day, it promises a peaceful year, free from clamors and strife, and foretells a plentiful year.
          A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard.

          So many hours of sun on Christmas Day,
          So many frosts in the month of May.

          A warm Christmas, a cold Easter; A green Christmas, a white Easter.
          Easter in snow, Christmas in mud; Christmas in snow, Easter in mud.

          If Christmas Day on a Sunday fall, a troublous winter we shall have all.

         When Christmas day falls on a Sunday, the year will be unfruitful.

         When Christmas is on a Sunday, the winter will be good, but with great winds; the summer will be fair and dry; the world will be at peace.

         If it rains on Christmas, there will be four weeks with no sun.

         A windy Christmas is a sign of a good year to come.

         A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year.

         A green Christmas, a good harvest.
On the other hand
         If it snows during Christmas night, the crops will do well.
         If it snows on Christmas night, there will be a good crop of hops next year [and hops make beer, and beer makes the Widow’s heart merry within her.  This may be the only time I hope for snow.]

         Light Christmas, light wheatsheaf;
         Dark Christmas, heavy wheatsheaf.
        A bright Christmas foretells that hens will lay well.
On the other hand
        A dark Christmas foretells that cows will give much milk.  [And this year it will be a dark Christmas, i.e. no moonlight]

         When Christmas day cometh while the moon waxeth, it shall be a very good year, and the nearer it cometh to the full moon, the better shall that year be.  If it cometh when the moon decreaseth, it shall be a hard year, and the nearer to the latter end, the worse and harder shall the year be.  [The moon will just be starting to wax again on Christmas.  Does this mean the year won’t be as bad as it could be?]

         If the sun shines through an apple tree on Christmas, there will be an abundant crop of apples in the coming year.

         If there is much wind on Christmas Day, trees will bear much fruit.

         If at Christmas, ice hangs on the willow, then clover may be cut at Easter [i.e. early Spring, and pasturage for the animals]

         If the wind grows stormy before sunset on Christmas, it betokens sickness in the coming spring and autumn. [Well, there’s an easy bet, whether it is stormy or not!]

         On Christmas day, place twelve onions in a row, each with a pinch of salt on the top, The first onion on the left represents January, the next February, and so on.
        On Epiphany, check the onions.  If the salt has melted on any one of them, the corresponding month will be wet; where the salt remains, that month will be dry.

         Thunder during Christmas week indicates that there will be much snow during the winter.
        The twelve days from Christmas to January 5th are said to be the key to the weather for the following twelve months.

        If it rains much during the 12 days of Christmas, it will be a wet year.

        If the days between Christmas and Epiphany are dark and foggy, there will be much sickness next year.

        If the sun shines on the 1st day of Christmas, there will be abundance and much joy in the world.
        If it shines on the 2nd day, then money will be easily come by.
        On the 3rd day, there will be a great fight among poor men, but peace between rulers and powerful men.
        On the 4th day, there will be a great lost of money.
        On the 5th day, there shall be a great bloom of fruit that year.
        On the 6th day, there will be much milk.
        On the 7th day, there will be a good crop on the trees.
        On the 8th day, then quicksilver will be easy to get.
        On the 9th day, then God shall send a great baptism that year.
        On the 10th day, then will the oceans and rivers have a great supply of fish.
        On the 11th day, then will there be many deaths among men.
        On the 12th day, men will be weak, and the earth will be quiet.
From a c1120 manuscript.

12/26:  If on St. Stephen’s Day there is much wind, it betokens a bad grape harvest next year, and the wine will be poor.

12/27:  If St. John’s day is dark, the following year will be good.

12/28:  If it be lowering and wet on Childermas Day, there will be scarcity; while if the day be fair, it promises plenty.

12/31:  Wind on St. Sylvester’s day seldom brings good wine.

           If on New Year’s Eve, the wind blows south, it betokens much warmth and growth;
           If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;
           If north, much cold and storms there’ll be;
           If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
           If north-east, flee it, man and brute.

Gardening - According to the 1816 Almanac:

    "Set all Sorts of Stones, Kernels, &c.  Plant Vines, and Stocks for Grafting; trench Ground, and dung it for Borders.
    Towards the end of the Month, sow Radishes, Carrots, and Lettuce on warm Borders.  Sow Cresses, Mustard, and other Sallad Herbs on a moderately hot Bed, and cover them with Mats.
    Plant all Sorts of Trees that shed their Leaves.”
   "Keep your Feet warm by Exercise, your Head cool through Temperance; never eat till you are hungry, nor drink but when Nature requires it."