December used to be the tenth month in the year and its name comes from the Latin word for ten. In December, the days are short and the nights are long. Sunrise is at about 8 o’clock and sunset is before 4 o’clock in the afternoon so a lot of people have to drive to work and drive home again in the dark. The shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, is the 21st or 22nd.
The weather in this month is usually cold. When the sky is clear at night, we often have frost overnight and everything is white when we wake up in the morning. It’s beautiful to look at but the ground can be a bit slippery. We sometimes get snow in December, especially in the hills and mountains. There is more chance of snow in the north of England than in the south.
Of course, when we think about December, we also think about Christmas! In fact, most of the month is spent getting ready for it! A few days before Christmas, people decorate their homes with ornaments and they put up a Christmas tree. This might be a real tree or an artificial one. They decorate the tree with baubles, tinsel and lights.
A lot of people send Christmas cards to friends and family members with a short message to wish them a happy Christmas and New Year. However, this habit is gradually becoming less common, especially among younger people. Postage stamps are ridiculously expensive these days and writing cards is time-consuming, so some people prefer to send an email, ecard or WhatsApp message instead.
We buy Christmas presents for close friends and family members. Some people are very organised and buy all their gifts weeks in advance while other people leave it until the last minute! As we get closer to the big day, the shops become more and more crowded and companies have to hire extra drivers for all the home deliveries.
Also in December, primary schools have Christmas parties for the children with food, games and maybe a visit from Santa Claus! Schools often organise a nativity play or musical show and invite the parents to come and watch their children perform. Workplaces also hold Christmas parties for their employees. This could be a meal out or a drinks party. Schools close for two weeks over Christmas. Workplaces close for a few days too and some offices are closed for the whole week between Christmas and New Year. The shops are only closed for one day, the 25th. To learn more about Christmas itself, click here.
December 31st is New Year’s Eve. Whereas Christmas is usually spent with family, people tend to spend New Year’s Eve with friends. Some people go out to a pub or restaurant and others have a party at home and have people over. At midnight, we listen to Big Ben, the famous clock in London, strike twelve, either on the TV or radio, and we drink champagne. We sometimes have fireworks or watch the firework display in London on television.
If you would like to learn more about English life, try my e-book, "A Year in England". It contains a text like this for each month, plus a vocabulary list and reading comprehension questions. There are also bonus sections about Christmas and Easter. Click the image below or visit my shop.
About the blog