It is the days of December already and the end of the year has dawned, characteristic of what the last month heralds always in bidding the joyful goodbye in the most festive of ways. Sitting in an aura that is way different that what the other months hold in their embrace, Decembers feels in fact like a whole season. From the cosy corners of winter warmth to the extravagantly festive vibes dominating its every moment in passing, December is one of those ends that is joyous and jubilant, dwelling in a pride that not even all new beginnings can gladly partake of.
Throughout the whole history of existence, much have been said and celebrated about winters in general and December in particular. But the peculiar way in which all these odes lend themselves their hearty airs to December make this month more about just the winter blues of course. December is a time aplenty of the year that which in its folds nurtures the far greater joy of anticipation. In setting you up for feisty beginnings and festive followings, redolent with the cheer of goodwill and the spirit of existence, whether it be in celebrations of the divine, of the delectable or of the dawn of new days, December seems to encompass most the true meaning of the humane life. There sure would be the nip in the air to give you the jitters but as benevolent as it tends to be, December cares enough as well to lend you also the blanket of warm comfort that has you gushing out and about with radiant cheer in particular of the many blessings that follows the world in this time of the year. From the onset of winter that brings along with it a plethora of unique experiences and feels to the culmination of 365 days of the old bowing out in favor of the new, December knows exactly how to warm up souls and gladden hearts even when the premise remains exactly the same year after year, repetitive but never monotonous, chilly but seldom cold.
So what is it about December that has our hearts warming up infinitely despite the bitter cold ruling outside? First and foremost, it of course is food. The basic means to sustenance and also the most extravagant luxury of life, there perhaps is no bliss in the world that the ready deliciousness of food would fail to bring to you. And December being blessed with the whole exciting array of exotic winter foods that it brings to the plate, loaded in all their vibrant colors and zesty look, it indeed is only justified that this month has always been one made for the feasts. With the harvest season in tow and the gluttonous appetites of us mere mortals further titillated by the lethargic pace of life in winters, what better than fresh, seasonal produce to enjoy December with? Come December and the markets are a riot of colors, with juicy fruits and plump veggies making for such adorably inviting showpieces of salivating folk that it is impossible to think about anything other than classic winter recipes to try each hue and every shape that you can get your hands on. In India particularly, winters are even more indulgent a time as far as food is concerned. For a country that love its vegetarian fare as much as it love its meat and fish and eggs, the December food experience here is bound to be an everyday feast. From sweet treats like the ever so popular gajar ka halwa to wholesome meals like the remarkable Gujarati veggie assortment undhiyu, winter colors here are predominantly foodesque! Then there also are other raved about delicacies that while do not incorporate the goodness of the harvest but still are more than good enough in their own right. Come December and India will be waiting to bless your taste buds with a super creamy, super rich dessert that does not cater to your norms of the bakery experience. Alluding here is our reference to nimish or malaiyyo that remains one of the most enchanting of treats that you can ever decipher anywhere in the world, winter or otherwise. Serving to the dual notions of health and taste are also such preparations that you can nibble along all day long as addictive snacks but that which do your health a whole lot of good in a way somewhat uncharacteristic of snacks. Be it panjiri or gajak or gud wali chai or gond ke laddoo, say December and envisage a whole nation of Indians curling up under the warm morning sun, sipping away at leisure on their intoxicating cuppa laced with jaggery and ginger and tulsi and masala and of course enough warmth to see them hale and hearty and spirited throughout the winter days. Even venturing outside India will lead you on a trail of soul warming comfort foods, from Switzerland’s sinfully cheesy fondue pot to the hot steamed momos accompanied by hot bowls of soup in the many Himalayan nations and of course variants and varieties of hot chocolate that are devoured with gluttonous appetite by all and sundry throughout the world and there’s no denying just how much of a food fiesta December tends to be.
The exploration of the whole aspect of December food however wouldn’t be complete if we do not make special allowance for the special fare that takes to the table around this festive season. In its Christmas fervor that hears bells jingling and winds chiming and witnesses also the maverick man in Santa Claus ho hoing up and down streets, through chimneys and into houses, the culinary splurge in December tends indeed to be fancy to say the least. Christmas is the time to totally gorge on a world of delicious treats, it festive spur helped also by the allowance of indulgence that winters so innately bring along with them. And what better than plum cakes and gingerbread cookies and eggnog punches and turkeys and a whole lot of stews and soups to seek comfort and taste in the dreamy last days of dewy December? In its many encompassing aspects therefore, December never ceases to be about the gastronomic indulgence making therefor food reason 1 for us to be so obsessed with this month that harbours happy nostalgia in being the ultimate season finale.
Which brings us to reason two of our continuing affair with December through the ages- Christmas and New Year. Festivities are so prominent a part of the December revelry that even the mere mention of its days instantly sets a whole mood altogether. Even when the biggest celebrations of the year sets in when December days begin to fizzle out, the spirits remain forever so high and up that the whole month sees celebrations of a euphoria that seldom accompanies other observances and festivals. Come December and the yuletide spirit takes over already, as a couple Christmas trees emerge to grace the horizon, shimmering in the twinkle of its starry light and magical vibe, as freshly baked cookies emanate a smell that seems to hold the whole town in captivity and as the ever adorable Santa Claus and his entourage paints the glimmering streets red and white in all flair, what holds us captivated is not merely the cheer of the sights but also the feel of the senses. With markets glittering as well in the vast amalgamation of Christmas gifts and sparkles, with excited crowds thronging bakeries and shops to prep up for entire days of feasting and with choirs spreading their carol tunes through the air, the world gets gripped by a feeling of bonhomie and togetherness that is never so palpable in any other time of the year. As the Christmas cheer spreads through alleys and into the nook and corner of every part of the world, it indeed is the glory of the Lord Himself that speaks to us in a revelry we wait so eagerly to dawn throughout the year. As churches come alive and people bond more over shared feelings of brotherhood over the course of the month, December stands testimony once again to being the amazing season that it is, in such notions of all things comforting and happy and positive that we rue not the passing of another year, preparing instead for a newer one that awaits us also with newer hopes and aspirations and of course resolutions.
As Christmas extends into New Year and December comes to be defined the most by its extravagant celebrations on the 31st, this ultimate month of every yearly rendezvous proves its generosity once again by endowing us with so much to cheer for even in its passing. How can then December not endear itself to each one of us in unleashing its magic throughout its duration of stay, leaving also with but a flourish, a magnificent wave of its wand that unleashes all potentials of the fresh and the new and the hopeful in itself being the most gracious host of the party, even in its exit?
With such a fun coming together of food and festivities, December also is rendered even more special by the coming together of friends and families on vacation. As loved ones catch up with one another after unwinding through a long, hectic year of working out life, there only erupts peals of laughter and showerings of love in the December canvas. As families bond over a shared meal at the dinner table, as lovebirds cuddle through a romantic night of the Christmas movies watching spree, as friends express their gratitude and excitement at having such amazing people to fall back on, December folds up as a month of marvelous human realisations. In its multitude of magnanimous miracles therefore, the month of December presents itself as a worthy reminder of how not all endings need to be morose or even miserable. December also is pretty and vibrant and nostalgic with its pristine snow covered landscapes and warm winter whizzes and its verisimilitude version of all things magical. December blesses us with love and happiness, with cheer and excitement, with food and fun, manifesting its presence therefore as the best month of all years to have ever dawned in history. How can then one not fall absolutely in love with December in all of its magic?