December seasonal events and outdoor activities
December feels like the end of days.
God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.J.M.Barrie
December is the end of the year and the start of the new. We may regard the 1st of January as the new year, however logically the Solstice is the end of one year and the start of the next. A month for reflection, but also a month of planning ready for rejuvenation the next year.
The land lies flat and dormant, many creatures hibernating. Birds visiting for the winter give a different feel to fields, lakes and coastal areas. Farms are quiet, the crops waiting for warmer weather and the animals close to the farm or warm in the barn. Farming activities revolve around repair and maintenance and planning.
If the weather is from the east, Ice and snow can start. Changing the landscape into a picture of crystal white. Softground becomes hard and the chill bites. Fieldfares strip trees of berries whilst Blackbirds fossick in hedge bottom for grubs and insects. Robins round and fluffy a splash of colour, and starlings startle and amaze with their twilight murmurations. Whilst cold and hard the landscape can be at its most beautiful, but beware of the easterly wind bringing Siberian temperatures. If the wind is from the West then it will be damp and wet and mud will be the theme.
At the end of the month, days begin, imperceptibly, to lengthen. The cold deepens still not knowing that spring is on the way, with January being colder still. The new year is afoot.
Dates, events, holidays and festivals.
26th December – Boxing Day substitute
27th December – Bank Holiday (Christmas Day substitute).
Seasonal, astronomical and nautical events
8th December – Full Moon, Cold Moon
9th December – Spring Tide
16th December – 3rd Quarter
17th December – Neap Tide
21st December – Winter Solstice
23rd December – New Moon
24th December – Spring Tide
30th December – 1st Quarter
31st December – Neap tide
Festivals and events, religious, traditional and sporting
10th December – The Great Christmas Pudding Race
24th December – Christmas Eve
25th December – Christmas Day
26th December – Boxing Day
31st December – Hogmanay / New years Eve
31st December – Stonehaven Fireball Festival
December seasonal Foods
What foods are seasonal in December.
Greens and leaves: Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Pak choi, Radicchio, Salsify.
Roots and other veg: Beetroot, Celery, Celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, Leek, Onion, Parsnip, Pumpkin, Quince, Spring onion, Swede, Sweet potato, Turnip.
Meat: Beef, Chicken, Duck, Grouse, Goose, Lamb, Pork, Venison.
Fruit: Bramley Apple, Chestnut, Cranberry, Pear.
Seafood: Mussels, Oyster.
Exotics: Banana, Clementine, Date, Grapefruit, Pomegranate.
Find out more about seasonal foods throughout the year with a guide to Seasonal foods.
Ice and snow – probably not
We probably have an association of crisp frosty mornings and snowy scenes for the month of December. Alas, it seems that this is rapidly becoming a thing of history because of climate change.
Christmas cards with bucolic rural scenes of pretty thatched cottages, grand parish churches and warm inviting Inns, with a red-breasted Robin bobbing about the snowy scene now all but a victorian fiction.
Latitude and altitude are big factors. The further “UP” you go, both North and in height improve your chances of snow. For most, there might be frost in December, but not snow.
The New Year
Not that one – the Solstice. The Winter Solstice or Hibernal Solstice is the end of one and the start of a new astronomical year. From this day on the daylight lengthens until reaching the summer solstice.
Birds and Wildlife
December can be a great time to see wildlife. Some species are in hibernation and should not be seen, hedgehogs for instance. Large numbers of summer visitors have left for warmer climates, and the winter visitors are here escaping snowbound landscapes. Resident bird species move freely about not defending territory, but on the constant hunt for food and shelter.
One of natures most impressive displays is in winter in the UK. A murmuration is the gathering for roost and leaving in the morning of thousands of these birds.
For more information and locations of the spectacle, visit Starlings In The UK.
On the Farm in December
Feeding of livestock. Continued daily livestock work.
A time general farm maintenance such as hedging, tree planting, ditch and drainage clearance and fencing. Other ongoing repairs.
Find out more about what is happening in the Year on the farm
Things to do in December
Out and about
Also, see the Out and about Blogs
The end of the year.
Recipe of the month.
Venison, Rich, lean and sustainable. Traditionally that food of nobles, now an accessible treat.
Entirely seasonal for the winter, a rich tasty caserole to warm as winter sets in.
1 tbsp oil plus 25g/1oz butter or equivalent of lard or dripping.
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
500g/1Ib 2oz mushrooms, halved
2.5kg/5½lb haunch or shoulder of venison, diced
½ bottle red wine
400ml/14fl oz water beef stock
3 tbsp seasonal condiment ( redcurrant jelly, cranberry or similar)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary or thyme
Large lidded casserole dish
Get venison to room temperature (defrost if required – 24 hours in the fridge is best, then leave at room temp away from heat for a few hours). Dice.
Prep veg. Slice bacon.
Make the stock if using powder, cubes or concentrate.
On the hob, heat the oil and butter (or other fats) in a large lidded casserole dish. Add the onions and cook until softened, but not browned.
Scoop out into a bowl for the next stage.
Brown the venison a handful at a time in the casserole. You may need to batch this. Then add the garlic, bacon, and mushrooms and cook for a further minute. Reintroduce the onions.
Add the red wine, stock, a sprig or two or Rosemary and/or thyme, the seasonal condiment, the salt, and the pepper.
Bring to the boil and stir well. Put the lid on the casserole and place in the middle of the oven – cook for 90 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Make a paste with the cornflour and two tablespoons of water. Add as much of the paste to the casserole as is needed to thicken the sauce – add a little at a time if you are not sure how much you will need.
Transfer the casserole to the hob, and, on a low heat, cook until the gravy has thickened.
Serve with Potato or root mash, leafy greens like kale, or Brussels sprouts.
For more inspiration see the Food Blogs
December Jobs in the vegetable garden or allotment
Clear old vegetation and compost. Cut down old blackberries. Remove plant supports and store.
Digging. Spreading compost and manure. Lime soil where needed.
Net brassicas (stop pigeons).
Remove rotten fruit and destroy (burn). Start winter pruning of fruits and trees. Shred and compost healthy, burn any diseased items.
Clean seed trays, pots and tools.
General repairs to fencing and structures.
Sowing and Planting
outdoors: Sow – Broad Beans.
Plant: Garlic, Fruit trees and bushes.
Brussels sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflowers, Celeriac, Celery, Endive, Jerusalem artichokes, Kale, Kohl rabi, Leeks, Oriental leaves, Parsnips, Swede, Swiss chard, Turnips, Winter radishes.
Find out more about what is happening in the allotment or vegetable garden
Thinking about getting out and about, then perhaps Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey to discover new places or see the latest handheld GPS devices with bundled mapping from Ordnance Survey.