As in the other calendar pages of the Belles Heures, the activity appropriate to the month appears within a quatrefoil frame at the top of the recto page and the appropriate zodiacal sign within a corresponding frame at the bottom. The text in gold at the top notes that December has thirty-one solar days; blue ink is used to indicate that the month has twenty-nine lunar days. The feasts proper to December are recorded in a column below and continued on the verso of the folio. The saints’ days are listed in alternating red and blue ink; the feasts of Saint Eloi and Saint Nicholas on the first and sixth of the month, as well as the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin on the eighth, the Nativity of Christ on the twenty-fifth, Saint Stephen on the twenty-sixth, Saint John the Evangelist on the twenty-seventh, the Holy Innocents on the twenty-eighth, and Saint Thomas à Becket on the twenty-ninth, are rendered in burnished gold.
See the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History to learn more about manuscript illumination in Northern Europe, or see special exhibitions for information about the exhibition “The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry” (on view at the Main Building March 2 through June 13, 2010).