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Did You Know?
Facts, Figures, & Folklore About the Month of December

Did you know that the month of December means "tenth month" in Latin?

In the original Roman calendar, the year began in March, making December the 10th -- and final -- month of the year. January and February did not exist until the second King of Rome added them in the 1st century B.C.E. Although December got bumped to the 12th month, it kept its original name.

Did you know that December originally had 30 days, but under King Julius' rule, the month was bumped to 31 days?

The Romans believed even numbers to be unlucky, so they made as many months odd-numbered as possible.

Did you know that turquoise is the birthstone of the month of December?

The stone, which is often used in Russian wedding bands, is traditionally believed to represent love. Turquoise is a soft stone found in arid regions. The more blue the stone, the higher its copper content. A greener-hued stone has more iron in it.

Did you know the winter solstice occurs in December, marking the sun's most southern declination in the Earth's revolution around it?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice is also the official start of winter and the shortest day of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, summer is just getting started and the solstice is the longest day of the year. The solstice typically occurs on December 21st or 22nd.

Did you know that despite -- or perhaps because of -- its dark, short days, December is the month of many bright festivals?

These include Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve. Lighting candles features prominently in all of these holidays, and Chanukah is even referred to as the "Festival of Lights".

Did you know that short days of December led to the month being used as a literary expression to refer to the declining health of individuals: the "December of her life"?

Did you know that Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901?

Other famous folks who share a December birthday include basketball greats Larry Bird (December 7) and LeBron James (December 30), poetess Emily Dickinson (December 10), (alleged) prophet Nostradamus (December 14), columnist William Safire (December 17), and talk show host Phil Donahue (December 21).

Did you know that on December 1, 1913, Ford introduced the first assembly line, changing manufacturing forever?

World War II buffs also know that December 7, 1941 is a date that will ""live in infamy" -- the bombing of Pearl Harbor. On December 16, 1944, the Battle of the Bulge was launched. Over 76,000 Americans would be killed in the month-long battle, which ultimately quashed Hitler's aggressive campaign against the Allied front.

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