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Dec
6
Sun
St. Nicholas.
Dec 6 all-day

A depiction of Saint Nicholas with his sack standing next to a Nativity Scene. Credit: Wikimedia commons.

Saint Nicholas Day, observed on December 5/6 in Western Christian countries and December 19 in Eastern Christian countries, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of Mass or other worship services. In Europe, especially in “Germany and Poland, boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor.” In Ukraine, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands, Dutch children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas’ horse. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender. In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles. – Wikipedia

Dec
8
Tue
Immaculate Conception.
Dec 8 all-day
Dec
10
Thu
Hanukkah begins at sunset (Jewish).
Dec 10 all-day
Dec
13
Sun
St. Lucia (Sweden), festival of light.
Dec 13 all-day

Saint Lucy’s Day, also called Lucia Day or the feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day observed on 13 December. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, an early-4th-century virgin martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candlelit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. Her feast day, which coincided with the shortest day of the year prior to calendar reforms, is widely celebrated as a festival of light. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as a precursor of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ in the calendar on Christmas Day. – Wikipedia

Dec
25
Fri
Christmas Day.
Dec 25 all-day
Dec
31
Thu
New Year’s Eve.
Dec 31 all-day
Jan
1
Fri
New Year’s Day
Jan 1 all-day

The year in the Roman calendar naturally starts on March 1. After all, the words September, October, November, and December literally mean Seventh Month, Eighth Month, Ninth Month, and Tenth Month, respectively.

Keeping track of the passage of years was primarily the concern of those keeping historical records. Ordinary people were not particularly concerned with long-scale time reckoning. In many ancient cultures historical events were dated in regnal years, i.e., using a time reckoning system starting with the anniversary of a sovereign’s accession or coronation. Under this system, the first day of the new year is the anniversary of the king’s or pope’s accession, i.e., the new year’s day would change with every new ruler.

In most cultures, new year’s day was not a cause for celebration for its own sake. People may have celebrated the anniversary of the king’s ascension or some religious feast, and the fact that these were used in time reckoning as dividing points between two consecutive years was quite secondary. In medieval Europe, March 25 (the Annunciation) was probably the most widespread new year’s day but the practice was far from universal. For instance, Rome used December 25 while Florence used March 25.

January 1 became new year’s day gradually from the 14th to the beginning of the 19th century.

Jan
18
Mon
Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jan 18 all-day

Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. Credit: Nobel Foundation

“Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, tactics his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi helped inspire.” – Wikipedia

Jan
1
Sat
New Year’s Day
Jan 1 all-day

The year in the Roman calendar naturally starts on March 1. After all, the words September, October, November, and December literally mean Seventh Month, Eighth Month, Ninth Month, and Tenth Month, respectively.

Keeping track of the passage of years was primarily the concern of those keeping historical records. Ordinary people were not particularly concerned with long-scale time reckoning. In many ancient cultures historical events were dated in regnal years, i.e., using a time reckoning system starting with the anniversary of a sovereign’s accession or coronation. Under this system, the first day of the new year is the anniversary of the king’s or pope’s accession, i.e., the new year’s day would change with every new ruler.

In most cultures, new year’s day was not a cause for celebration for its own sake. People may have celebrated the anniversary of the king’s ascension or some religious feast, and the fact that these were used in time reckoning as dividing points between two consecutive years was quite secondary. In medieval Europe, March 25 (the Annunciation) was probably the most widespread new year’s day but the practice was far from universal. For instance, Rome used December 25 while Florence used March 25.

January 1 became new year’s day gradually from the 14th to the beginning of the 19th century.