The Months of the Year
Naming December - The Tenth Month
December is the twelfth and last month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and has a length of 31 days. The month kept its original name from the Latin word decem meaning “ten” which marked it as the tenth month of the year in the Roman calendar.
December was named during a time when the calendar year began with March, which is why its name no longer corresponds with its placement in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
- Middle English - decembre
- Latin name - December - tenth month
- Old English - Geol-monaþ - month before yule
History of December
December was originally the last month of the Roman calendar since the winter period was not assigned months. It originally consisted of 30 days, but its length was shortened to 29 days when King Numa Pompilius reformed the calendar and added the months of January and February around 700 BCE. During the Julian calendar reform, two days were added to December making it 31 days long.
Position in the Year
December is the twelfth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendar and was the tenth month in the Roman calendar. It is the seasonal equivalent of June in the Southern Hemisphere.
The month contains the winter solstice which is the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere.
December starts on the same day of the week as September every year and ends on the same day of the week as April every year.
Its birth flower is the holly or Euphorbia pulcherrima.
The birthstone for December is the blue turquoise or zircon.