December is named after the Latin decem "ten," as once it was the tenth month in the year. From this same route came the Roman names Decimus and Decima. Other names with related "tenth" meanings include Deacon, Dix and Dixie.
Translations for the month include Décembre (French), Dezember (German), Dezembro (Portuguese), Dicembre (Italian), Diciembre (Spanish), Kerzu (Breton), Kevardhu (Cornish) and Rhagfyr (Welsh).
In many northern European languages, December translates as "Yule" month: the ancient name for the midwinter festival lasting twelve days. The Anglo-Saxons called the month Ærra Geōla, which meant "preceding Yule." The Anglo-Saxon Geōl or Geōla became Yole in Middle English, and later Yul or Yule. The Norse cognate was Jól, which survives in the Scandinavian name Jul. One theory suggests that the Norse jōl became the Old French ;jolif "festive, merry, pretty," which has become joli /jolie in French, and jolly in English.
As far as first names are concerned, Yul and Yula can be found as Scandinavian forms, while Jole has seen usage in the Isle of Man.
The Winter Solstice generally falls between the 20th and 23rd of December. It is the time of year when the sun is closest to the horizon, before it starts to climb higher again, and the days lengthen. In ancient times, when the light and heat of the sun were a key part of survival, this event was a cause of much celebration.
The word Solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, composed of the elements sol "sun" and stitio "to stand still." The ancient Welsh name for solstice is Alban — the Winter Solstice translating to Alban Arthan, while the Anglos-Saxons referred to it as Midwinter.
Several eastern European languages translate December as "snow" month and modern western culture perpetuates the ideal of a snowy December paradise. Fortunately, snowy names abound.
Eira is the Welsh word for snow, in use as a feminine name since the late 19th century. It has also begotten Aneira (intensifying prefix + eira), as well as Eirwen, Eirawen and Gwyneira (eira "snow" and gwyn "white, fair, blessed").
Other examples include Aputsiaq "snowflake" (Greenlandic), Bora (Albanian), Chione (Greek), Edur (Basque), Fannar "snow drift" (Icelandic), Haukea "white snow" (Hawaiian), Lumi (Finnish), Nieves (Spanish) Pyry "snowstorm" (Finnish) and Snježana "snowy" (Slavic), for girls.
December's birthstone is Turquoise — the pierre turqueise in French — so named for its Persian origin. It has seen occasional usage as a first name since the 19th century.
Narcissus is the birth flower for December, named from the figure (Narkissos) in Greek myth who, according to legend, was transformed into the flower after he wasted away from staring at his own reflection. Narciso, Narcisse, Narcis, Narcissa, Narcisa, Narges and Nergis are international variants of his name. The flower is more commonly called Daffodil in Britain.
Sagitarius "the archer" is the astrological sign that runs from November 22 to December 22. The name literally means "archer" in Latin, from sagitta "arrow." There was even a class of gladiator, the sagitarii, who fought with bow and arrows. It has very little usage as a first name — I can find no examples in Britain — but similarly themed Archer, Arrow, Bow, Bower and Fletcher are all currently in use.
Many different countries have names associated with days of the year; most often they are the feast days of saints. Below are some of the names associated with the days in December around the world.
1 = Edmund, Florence, Natalia, Oscar
2 = Aurelia, Bibiana, Blanka, Finian
3 = Attalia, Francis, Lucius, Xavier
4 = Barbara, Emerita, John, Maximus, Peter
5 = Gerald, Sabina, Selma
6 = Denise, Dionysia, Nicola, Nicholas
7 = Agathon, Ambrose, Farah
8 = Kyllikki, Maria, Virginia, Zeno
9 = Anne, Joachim, Leocadia
10 = Eulalia, Judith, Julia, Loreta, Loredana
11 = Arthur, Damasus, Daniel
12 = Alexander, Colm, Corentin, Johanna
13 = Lucy, Lydia, Magnus, Ottilie
14 = Eutropia, John, Nicasius,
15 = Christiana, Christina, Judoc, Nina
16 = Adelaide, Albina, Alice, Valentine
17 = Ignatius, Lazarus, Olympia, Yolanda
18 = Gratian, Rufus, Zosimas
19 = Darius, Gregory, Urban
20 = Abraham, Paul, Thecla, Theophilus
21 = Honoratus, Peter, Thomas
22 = Flavian, Francesca, Jutta, Zeno
23 = Gregory, John, Senni, Victoria
24 = Adam, Adela, Eve, Hermina
25 = Anastasia, Eugenia, Natalia
26 = Emmanuel, Joseph, Stephen
27 = Fabiola, Theodore, Zoilus
28 = Donna, Pia, Theophila
29 = Becket, Tamara, Thomas
30 = David, Hermine, Sabinus
31 = Columba, Melania, Sylvester