Seasonal Advice for December: Recipes, Gardening, Folklore

Seasonal Advice for December Holly Berries

December 2016 brings with it snow (for some), family, feasts, and fun, but remember to grab some hot cocoa during this winter month and relax when you can.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!

Beggar’s rhyme.


December comes from the Latin word decem meaning “ten” because this had been the tenth month of the early Roman calendar.

December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day. St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, inspires traditions around the world from hunts for presents to stockings with sweets. 

The 7th of December is always National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

St. Lucia’s Day on the 13th has long been associated with festivals of light. Before the Gregorian calendar reform in 1752, her feast day occurred on the shortest day of the year (hence the saying “Lucy light, Lucy light, shortest day and longest night”).

The December solstice occurs on the 21st at 5:44 a.m. EST. At this time, winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere and summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere. See more about the first day of winter.

In 2016, Chanukah and Christmas overlap!  Chanukah begins at sundown on December 24 with the first full day on the 25th. Learn more bout this festival of lights.

December 25 is Christmas Day, a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Learn more about American Christmas Traditions and Christmas Questions and Answers.

On the last evening of the year, December 31, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing!

Recipes for the Season

To help you prepare for this holiday season, check out our Christmas Dinner Recipe page for delicious dinner, side dish, and dessert ideas.

Going to a party? You may also enjoy our Christmas Appetizer Recipes.

Baking cookies for friends and family? Visit our 12 Days of Cookies page for recipes!

Need a gift for a cook? Give him or her 118 scrumptious recipes for cookies, pies, cakes, breads, and more home-baked goods with our brand-new Everyday Baking cookbook!


This is a good time to start pruning dead and dangerous limbs from trees. 

If you enjoy holiday plants, here are tips on plant care for poinsettia, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis.

As houseplants are growing more slowly in December light, cut down on watering by half until active growth resumes. Hold off on fertilizing as well. See tips on growing houseplants.

Everyday Advice

To help you with this holiday season, check out some of our tips and fun crafts:
The Holiday Table: Setting and Decorating
Holiday Cooking and Cleaning Checklist
Christmas Tree Care Tips
Make Your Own Holiday Candle


The dark winter night sky is a joy to behold. See our monthly Sky Watch for highlights of the December sky.

In 2016, the Geminids will blaze bright under ideal Moonless skies! Look up on December 13 to 14 after 9 P.M. See our Meteor Showers Guide and viewing tips.

December’s full Moon, the Full Cold Moon, occurs on the 13th, at 7:06 p.m. EST. See our December Full Moon page.


Know the weather before you head off to that Christmas event or travel to grandmother’s house. We’ve posted the long-range weather for December and January.

December changeable and mild, the whole winter will remain a child.
December cold, with snow, brings rye everywhere.

Thunder in December presages fine weather.

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