~ Legends and Lore for December ~
December, the twelfth and final month of the current Gregorian calendar and the first month Winter, derives its name from decem, the Latin word meaning "ten," as December was the tenth month of the old Roman calendar.
The traditional birthstone amulets of December are the blue zircon and turquoise; and holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are the month's traditional flowers.
December is shared by the astrological signs of Sagittarius the Centaur-Archer and Capricorn the Goat, and is sacred to the following Pagan deities: Attis, Dionysus, Frey, Freya (or Freyja), Kriss Kringle (the Pagan god of Yule), Lucina, Woden, and the Wiccan Horned God (consort of the Wiccan Goddess). During the month of December, the Great Solar Wheel of the Year is turned to the Winter Solstice, one of the four Lesser Sabbats celebrated each year by Wiccans and modern Witches throughout the world.
In some parts of the world, the first day of December is the traditional time for young girls to perform the ancient art of cromniomancy (divination by onion sprouts) to find out the name of their future husband. To find out who your future husband will be, take some onions and upon each one carve or write a different man's name. Place the onions near a fire and the man whose name is on the onion that sprouts first will be the one.
In what is now known as Bodh Gaya, India, the world's oldest and most sacred tree (planted in the year 282 B.C. and believed to be an offshoot of the Bodhi or Bo-tree that the Buddha sat under when he achieved enlightenment) is honored annually on this date by Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims with prayers, chants, and brightly colored flags.
On this day, an annual women's festival called Hari Kugo (Broken Needles) takes place in the city of Tokyo. It commemorates women's crafts and is dedicated to all patron goddesses of Japanese craftswomen.
In ancient Rome, secret women's rites were performed annually on this date in honor of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. All males were barred from the ceremonies, which were conducted by vestal virgins. In ancient Greece, this day was sacred to the goddess Cybele and also to Rhea, the Great Mother of the Earth.
On this date in ancient Rome, the goddess Minerva was honored with an annual festival. Minerva (the Roman counterpart of the Greek Athena) is a goddess of battle and also a patroness of the arts and wisdom. In West Africa, this day is sacred to the Yoruban god Chango. He is a god of lightning bolts, and the son of the deities Yemaya and Orungan.
In ancient Greece, an annual seaside festival (the Poseidea) was celebrated annually on this date to honor the sea-god Poseidon, consort of the Mother Goddess. In Italy, the First Feast of Saint Lucia is held on this date each year. Before being Christianized into a Saint, she was originally worshiped as Lucina, a Pagan goddess of light who also presided over childbirth.
On this day in the year 1890, famous occultists and ritual magician Dion Fortune was born in Wales. Although Ms. Fortune never proclaimed herself to be a Witch, her numerous writings are popular among (and inspiring to) many modern Witches, Wiccans, and Neo-Pagans around the world. She died from leukemia on January 8, 1946.
On this date in ancient Greece, an annual rite called the Haloia of Demeter was performed. According to mythology, each year the goddess Demeter wanders the earth in search of her stolen daughter Persephone. The goddess' sorrow brings Winter to the world and all trees and flowers cease to bloom; however, Spring returns when Persephone is allowed to temporarily leave the darkness of the Underworld and Demeter once again rejoices.
On this day, the birth of the ancient and powerful goddess of the sun (Amaterasu) is celebrated annually at Shinto temples throughout Japan. In Egypt, the Festival of Neith is celebrated annually on this date to honor the Earth-Goddess of the Delta.
The ninth day of the last month of the year (along with the sixth and seventh days) is considered to be an extremely unlucky time, according to Grafton in his Manuel (a sixteenth-century book of unlucky days as determined by professional star-gazers) In Mexico, the healing virgin-goddess Tonantzin is honored on this day with an annual festival called the Fiesta of the Mother of Health.
On this night (approximately) Inuit hunters in the far north begin an annual five-day series of purification rites, followed by a propitiation ceremony under the full moon, for the souls of the animals they had hunted in the last year. The December Moon ceremony has been performed in the Arctic coastal regions of North America for hundreds of years.
Day of Bruma. On this date, the ancient Roman goddess of the winter season was honored by Pagans in Italy with an annual festival. This day is also sacred to Arianrhod, the Snow Queen goddess, and Yuki Onne.
The victories of good over evil and light over darkness are celebrated annually at sunset on this date (approximately) with the Zoroastrian fire festival of Sada. In Mexico, the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe religious festival takes place on this day. It is a sacred day to the goddesses Coatlique, Tonantzin, and the Black Madonna.
Saint Lucia's Day. On this day, a candlelight festival is celebrated throughout Sweden. The first-born daughter of each family wears a flowing white gown and a crown of candles around her head, obviously in reference to the ancient Pagan symbols of fire and life-giving light. The daughter traditionally serves her mother and father breakfast in bed.
On this date in the year 1503, the famous French prophet and astrologer Michel de Nostradamus was born in Saint Remy de Provence. He experienced many psychic visions during his childhood, and he later studied the Holy Qabalah, astrology, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics. The first collection of his uncannily accurate visions, written in the form of rhymed quatrains, was published in the year 1555. Three years later, a second and larger collection of his prophecies-- - reaching into the year 3979--was published. Nostradamus died on July 1, 1566.
Halcyon Days. According to ancient legend, the seven days before the winter solstice and the seven days following it are a special time of tranquility and calm, due to the magickal powers of the halcyon (a fabled bird who nested on the sea and calmed the wind and the waves during the winter solstice). In Puerto Rico, the Yule Child is honored by a religious festival called Navidades, which begins annually on this day. It is celebrated until the sixth of January.
In Mexico, the Yule Child is honored by a religious festival called Posadas, which begins annually on this day. It is celebrated until the twenty-fourth of December. This day is sacred to the Pagan wisdom-goddesses Athena, Kista, Maat,Minerva, the Shekinah, and Sophia. The Soyal ceremony is celebrated annually on this date (approximately) by the Native American tribe of the Hopi in the southwestern United States. The rites of the Soyal celebrate the return of the sun (Life) and commemorate the creation and rebirth of the Spider Woman and Hawk Maiden.
Saturnalia. The Roman god Saturn was honored in ancient times during this annual midwinter festival, which began on this date and lasted until the twenty-fourth of December. This was a week of feasting,merriment, gift-giving, charades, and the lighting of torches and candles.
On this day in Latvia, the birth of the god Diev and the rebirth of the Sun is celebrated annually with a four-day winter festival. Houses are festively decorated and traditional feasts are prepared to welcome the four gift-bearing celestial beings who are the heralds of the winter solstice. On the second day of the Saturnalia, the ancient Romans celebrated the Eponalia (a feast dedicated to Epona, the Celtic Mother-Goddess and a patroness of horses).
On the third day of the Saturnalia, the ancient Romans celebrated the Opalia, a feast dedicated to Ops (Abundance), the harvest goddess of fertility and success, and the consort of the god Saturn. This day was also sacred to the Roman fertility goddess Sabine. The Hindu goddess Sankrant is honored annually on this date (approximately) by a Hindu Solstice celebration called Pongol.
On this day in the year 1946, famous Israeli psychic Uri Geller was born in Tel Aviv. He is renowned for his psychokinetic ability to bend metal objects by stroking them with his fingers and to stop clocks simply by gazing upon them. His metal-bending and mind-reading abilities developed at the age of five when he was accidentally shocked by his mother's electric sewing machine. He began his career as a full-time professional stage performer in 1969.
On the first day of winter (which normally occurs on or near this date), the Winter Solstice Sabbat is celebrated by Wiccans and Witches throughout the world. Winter Solstice (which is also known as Yule, Winter Rite, Midwinter, and Alban Arthan) is the longest night of the year, marking the time when the days begin to grow longer and the hours of darkness decrease. It is the festival of the Sun's rebirth, and a time to honor the Horned God. (The aspect of the God invoked at this Sabbat by certain Wiccan traditions is Frey, the Scandinavian fertility god and a deity associated with peace and prosperity.) Love, family togetherness, and accomplishments of the past year are also celebrated. On this Sabbat, Witches bid farewell to the Great Mother and welcome the reborn Horned God who rules the dark half of the year.
On this date (approximately) the Sun enters the astrological sign of Capricorn. Persons born under the sign of the Goat are said to be ambitious, practical, loyal, and often reclusive. Capricorn is an earth sign and is ruled by the planet Saturn. On this date in the year 1970, famous Wiccan authors Stewart and Janet Farrar founded their own coven. The Farrars, a husband and wife team, have written many popular Witchcraft books together.
In early times, a Pagan religious ceremony called the Laurentina was held in Rome each year on this date. It celebrated the recovery of light from the darkness of the winter solstice, and was dedicated to the goddess Acca Laurentia or Lara (the mother of the Lares). The demigod Balomain is honored annually by the Kalash people with a weeklong festival called the Chaomos, which begins on this date.
Christmas Eve. According to Finnish folklore, the ghosts of departed loved ones return home each year on this night. It is a Christmas Eve tradition in Finland and in many other parts of Europe for families to light white candles on the graves of their ancestors. According to superstition, if a man proposes to his beloved on Christmas Eve and she accepts, they will surely enjoy a happy and love-filled marriage.
Birthday of the Invincible Sun (Dies Natalis Invicti Solis). Before being Christianized as the Mass of Christ (Christmas), a festival honoring the god of the sun was celebrated on this day in ancient Rome. It was made a public holiday by the Emperor Aurelian in the year A.D. 272 and consisted of the lighting of sacred bonfires. On Christmas Day, according to German folklore, a Yuletide Witch known as the Lutzelfrau flies through the sky on her broom, bringing mischief to mortals who fail to honor her with small presents. Another Yuletide Witch of German folklore is Perchta. In the southern regions of the country, it was an old Yuletide custom for children wearing masks and carrying besoms (Witch brooms) to go door to door (in "trick or treat" fashion) begging for gifts in the name of Perchta.
On this day, the first day of Yuletide begins. It continues until the Twelfth-day (January 6). The Junkanoo festival takes place annually on this day in the Bahama Islands. Old gods are honored and ancient magick is reinvoked as music, dancing, and costumed marchers fill the streets until the crack of dawn. This day is sacred to various deities from around the world. Among them are Frau Sonne, Igaehindvo, the Star Faery, Sunne, and Yemaya.
On this day in the year 1959, Gerina Dunwich (eclectic Witch, professional astrologer, and author of many Witchcraft books, including the one you are now reading) was born in Chicago, Illinois under the sign of Capricorn with a Taurus rising. The birth of Freya (the Norse goddess of fertility, love, and beauty) is celebrated on this day. Annual Pagan festivals in her honor are celebrated throughout the world by many Wiccans of the Saxon tradition.
On this day, an annual festival of peace and spiritual renewal is celebrated in parts of China. Offerings are made to gods and spirits, and a paper horse containing the names of all the members of the temple is set on fire in the ancient Taoist belief that the rising smoke will take the names up to heaven.
During this period, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights (also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah) is observed by Jews throughout the world. On each night of the festival, one additional candle is lit on a ceremonial nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah. In ancient Greece, a Pagan religious festival called the Day of Nymphs was celebrated on this day in honor of Andromeda, Ariadne, and Artemis (the Greek counterpart of the goddess Diana).
On this date in the year 1916, Rasputin (a famous Russian mystic monk,occultist, and court magician) was assassinated by his enemy Prince Feliks Yusupov. Rasputin, who was drowned in the frozen Neva River,presaged his own death.
New Year's Eve. The modern custom of ringing bells and blowing horns to usher in the new year at midnight is actually derived from the old Pagan custom of noisemaking to scare away the evils of the old year. In certain parts of Japan, young men put on grotesque demon masks and costumes made of straw and go door to door collecting donations of money, rice cakes, and sake. This traditional New Year's Eve custom serves to drive out the demons of misfortune and ensure an abundant harvest for the new year.
HearthandHomeWitchery the article was founded by HerbalPagan