Whether it is for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus, December is a time when families gather to share the joys and blessings of being together. Thanks to the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – and cooling temperatures, societies worldwide have traditionally set aside work in order to participate in feasts, parties, religious observances, and the art of thoughtful gift giving.
In the United States, it is impossible to ignore traditions associated with Christmas. Neighborhoods are alight with strings of multicolored light bulbs, lawns are adorned with inflatable reindeer and Santa Clauses, and stores play Christmas music around the clock – to name just a few. But did you know that even though people have been celebrating Christmas for centuries, Christmas as we know it is a relatively new creation?
From Roman times all the way through the Middle Ages, Christmastime was much more like Mardi Gras, with large, loud parties that raved into the night for weeks at a time. The entire social order was flipped on its head – the poor could go to the homes of the wealthiest citizens and demand their best food and drink. In England every year, a peasant would be crowned the “Lord of Misrule,” becoming the boss for the day so everyone would have to do as they said!
Over time, people became inspired by the Christmas-themed works by different authors: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Clement Clarke Moore’s poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., and the rowdy upside-down partying evolved to focus more on Santa Claus, gift giving, and family gatherings. But while some holiday traditions and songs seem immutable, Christmas traditions continue to evolve and shape to fit the culture of each generation, with more recent additions like the elf on the shelf, ugly Christmas sweater parties, and using alternative gift wrapping (such as reusable gift bags, newspapers, and fabrics) to reduce waste.
Turquoise is the gemstone for December. The bluish-green stone may remind one of the cold, calm skies seen in this month. Since ancient times, many cultures have seen turquoise as having the ability to bring good fortune to its owner.
The December flower is holly. This evergreen shrub has pointy, thorny leaves and clusters of red berries. A staple in many Christmas wreaths and centerpieces, holly is meant to symbolize peace and goodwill.
What a wonderful way to bring a close to the year – with hope, positivity, and joy!
How many days are in December?
There are 31 days in December.
How many school days are in December?
Holiday breaks can begin as early as mid-December in some school districts and almost always last about two weeks. Depending on when the break starts, students may return right after New Year’s Day or maybe a week following New Year’s Day.
What are some month-long observances in December?
What are some major holidays in December?
What are some good lesson plans for December?
Here are over 3,900 lesson plans for December.
How can I motivate my students in December?
With so much emphasis on family during this month, consider having your students interview a member of their family that lives outside their home. They could conduct this interview in audio, video, or written format. The goal would be to take a deeper dive into the history and experiences of their family and hopefully hear some interesting stories along the way. This should make any potential reunions over the holidays more meaningful. After all, knowing where we came from helps us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
Can I download and print this December classroom calendar for my students?
Yes, absolutely! Enjoy.