December Magazine

Hail December! The Twelfth month!



Hail to the number twelve. Three cheers (four times) for the ol’ 12, the number on the top of the clock!!

The number on the top of the clock!

The word twelve, whose early English-Germanic roots derive from “two left”, or two left over after counting to ten, completes a certain cycle for us. After twelve o’clock we start to count the hours again. Twice every day we count out twelve hours. And I hopr you know what time it is when your clock strikes thirteen? That’s right! Time to get your clock fixed!

The Sumerians, who bequeathed to us this lovely 12-based system of telling time, used a sexagonal number system, which means based on the 60. The Sumerian year was divided into 12 30-day months, in accordance with the twelve signs of the zodiac. A Sumerian year thus had exactly 360 days. However, 5 days remained unaccounted for! The Sumerians solved this little problem by declaring five “free” holiday days at the end of each year. After five days of New Year’s partying, no one cared that the math didn’t work out so perfect. Anyhow, we still divide our days and nights into 12 hour segments, each hour further subdivided into 60 minutes, and each minute into 60 seconds. Likewise, based on the Sumerian system, we use 360 degrees to measure a circle. Works out pretty well.

Twelve has a lot of factors: 2, 6, 3, and 4. There are twelve inches in a foot, twelve notes in the chromatic scale, twelve days of Christmas, and twelve tribes of Israel. Of course, there are 12 signs in the zodiac – which probably lies at the bottom of all this 12 business. We have twelve jurors, and twelve AA steps to sobriety. Also, there were twelve Olympians, twelve knights at the Round table, twelve pence to a shilling, and twelve eggs to the dozen.

Which all brings us back to twelve months in the year. Yes, at long last we are coming to the end of the year, thank goodness. May the next twelve months be healthy and safe ones. A Happy and Safe Holiday Season to all! 



14 thoughts on “December Magazine

    1. Thanks. Numbers are interesting. I stopped at twelve, but there are plenty of numbers,real and imaginary, to keep you real busy. Happy, safe holidays to you!!!

  1. Some football clubs have retired the number 12 as they see the fans as the twelth man. And now I am remembering fondly when I had heard all those Christmas pop songs for the twelth time since November, it seems like so long ago as I swear they just loop the same songs constantly.

    1. Yes, they loop them. That song about the twelfth day of Christmas keeps looping. There are only a handful of good ones. Schubert’s Ave Maria and Chuck Berry’s Run, Run, Rudolph.

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