December. According to the calendar of Romulus, this was the tenth month, as the word implies; but by the Julian calendar it was made the twelfth. Among the Romans this month was devoted to various festivals. On the 5th they kept the Faunalia; on the 17th the Saturnalia; on the 22nd, the Lararia; and on the last, the Juveniles Ludi. The peasants also kept the feast of the goddess Vacuna, after having got in the fruits and sown their corn. During this time all orders of the community were devoted to mirth and festivity.
Masters and slaves were all on an equal footing. Friends sent presents to one another, and feasted together at the same table. The schools kept a vacation, and nothing was to be seen in the city but mirth and freedom.
Our Saxon ancestors called the month Winter Monath, but after their conversion to Christianity they called it Heligh Monath, or Holy month, in commemoration of the Nativity, which is always celebrated in this month. It was also called guil-erra, or the first guil; the feast of Thor, which was held at the winter solstice, being called guil from iol, or ol, which signified ale. This feast was even continued into January, and has been corrupted into yule.
Synonymes. - In Latin, December; French Decembre; Italian, Dicembre ; Spanish, Diciembre; and in Portuguese, Dezembro.
As in our engraving, this month was represented by the ancients as an old man. with a severe and fearful countenance, clothed in a coarse frieze rug, girt upon him ; his bands encased in fur gloves, and holding a hatchet, emblematical of the season, it being the time for felling timber. Instead of his head being surrounded by a garland, it appeared to be wrapped in three or four nightcaps, with a Turkish turban over them; his mouth and beard were clogged with icicles, and at his back was a bundle of ivy, holly and mistletoe, and at his side the sign of Capricornus, the goat, symbolical of the sun entering that constellation on the 21st.
The chronology of the month, replete with interesting records of past events, is subjoined.
1. Dr. Warren died,1835
2. Fiaxman died, 1826.
3. Richelieu died, 1642.
4. Galvanism discovered, 1790 - Mozart d. 1792.
5. Black died, 1799.
6. Nicholas. - General Monk born, 1608.
7. Dr. Aikindied, 1822.
8. Zimmerman, b., 1728
9. Scheele born, 1742.
10. Royal Academy of Arts instituted, 176S
11. Grouseshootingends -CharlesXlI.k.1718
12. Sir J. Brunel, d. 1849
13. Lucy - Dr. S. Johnson died, 1784.
14. Washington d , 1799
15. Brera born, 1772.
16. Leopold, King of Belgium, born, 1790.
17. Sir H.Davy b., 1778.
18. Reubens born, 1577.
20. Gray born, 1716.
21. St. Thomas; Shortest Day.
22. Pott died, 1788.
23. Sir R. Arkwright, b. 1732.
24. Christmas Eve.
25. Christmas Day.
26. St. Stephen, Peyer born, 1653.
27. St. John. - Munro died, 1791.
28. Innocents. - Peter Bayle died, 1706.
29. John wycliffed., 1384
30. R. Boyle died, 1691.
31. St. Silvester. - Boer have born, 1668.
The East IndiaCompany incorporated, 1600.
The Red LetteR Days of the month are as follow: 6th. - "st. Nicholas." He was Archbishop of Myra, in Greece, a.d. 302. and is regarded as the patron saint of children and mariners, and consequently churches built near to the sea are generally dedicated to this saint.
13th. - "St. Lucia" was a young lady of Syracuse, who died in the year 304. and was remarkable for the devout and charitable life she led.
21st. - " St. Thomas" is said to have travelled and promulgated Christianity among the Persians, Medes, Parthians, and Armenians, and that he met with his death by being stoned, and having darts thrown at him by the Brahmins, who were incensea at his preaching.
25th. - " Christmas Day." This is kept as a solemn festival by our Church, and many curious customs prevail, which we have neither time nor space to describe, particularly as they are generally well known.
26th. - " St. Stephen." This feast is held, according to Brady, "in consequence of St. Stephen having been the first who suffered for his steady adherence to the faith of Christ, so that his anniversary has been fixed immediately following the (lay held by the Church in commemoration of the Nativity of our Saviour."
27th.- - " St. John the Evangelist." This feast is observed in commemoration of this evangelist, beeause he drank poison without dying in consequence.
28th. - " Childermas" or " Holy Innocents' Day" is held in commemoration of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, and is celebrated by the Church of Rome with masses. It is considered unlucky to begin any work upon this day.
31st. - " St. Silvester" was a pope, and is said to have been the author of several rites and ceremonies of the Romish Church, as unctions, palls, asylums, etc. He died in 334.