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December is the season to be jolly

Abhishek Sengupta (Musings)
Filed on December 2, 2019 | Last updated on December 2, 2019 at 09.17 pm

There may be no proper winter here in Dubai, yet the festive cheer in the air is unmistakable as the UAE lights up early thanks to the National Day celebrations.

So, December is here finally and I am absolutely entranced once again, like I am this time every year. There's something about this month. There's a wondrous ring to its name and there's something in the air. And then there's light, making it truly special in one way or the other with not just Christmas festivities at the heart of it all. And who, after all, knows it better than someone living in the UAE where streets are illumed and corniches festooned as early as the start of the month thanks its own special day on the 2nd of December every year. There's always that hope for a fresh, new start around the corner for some and then there's a belief that the wretched run is gotta end soon.

For those who have had a terrible year like Unai Emery, the Arsenal manager who just got the boot last week for a string of winless performances or Theresa May, who lost her job in the summer amidst all the Brexit brouhaha, it's time to heave a sigh of relief that their version of annus horribilis is ending soon. Whilst those who have had a decent year in the face all odds - like Boris Johnson, who took over from May or Donald Trump who survived impeachment bids against him, or Narendra Modi who returned to power for a second straight term despite growing voices of dissent over a crumbling economy - will hope to stretch that run into the next. Whatever it is, it's a nice time to sit back and reflect and realign with life's lost goal and aspirations with friends, family and self. And all of that happens in this month of December - when much of the world, especially the Northern Hemisphere, gets ready to break into a festive jeer to welcome yet another start with winter setting in, nice and snug.

I remember growing up I had always looked forward to Decembers not because it meant the return of school holidays or the month of Santa's largesse but because Calcutta, my hometown and the City of Joy, came alive, decked in its inimitable Christmassy attire that made you wonder if someone just sprinkled happiness in the air. I have changed cities since, spent this time of the year in other countries and although that feeling has remained unmatched to this day, Decembers have been nothing but spectacular!

But is it just the cold weather that makes December such a joyous time? December gets its name from the Latin word decem for ten because it was originally the tenth month in Roumulus' calendar that began in March. The winter days following December were not a part of any month but even after January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, December retained its name and its true charm.

There may be no proper winter here in Dubai - in fact the coldest we get to here is about 15 degrees - yet the festive cheer in the air is unmistakable as the UAE lights up early thanks to the National Day celebrations. And it may not even be history's most significant month, yet it's seen some truly iconic moments - from John Lennon's assassination to the rebellious streaks of the 18th century Boston Tea Party to the start of the Coronation Street. Even Wright brothers took off on their first flight in December over 116 years ago. But if I were to pick one, I would go back to Moscow on December 25, 1991, the last day of the Soviet Union with the Orthodox Christmas still two weeks away.

Historians still argue about when the Soviet state began to fall apart but it was at the beginning of December when leaders of the Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian republics met in a nondescript Belarusian hunting lodge to sign an accord to end the Soviet Union forever.

For President Mikhail Gorbachev, the accord was an abject humiliation, destroying his hopes of perestroika (and glasnost) and of remaining a leader of a reformed, decentralised Soviet empire. But the world changed soon after and the rest as they say is history. Come to think of it, it all happened just two decades after the United Arab Emirates was formed, whose declaration was signed right here at the Union House in Dubai!

-abhishek@khaleejtimes.com


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