With sunsets displaying a gorgeous spectrum of colors a few hours after we eat lunch these days, it's pretty apparent that winter is here. Despite these long nights, there's at least the full moon to keep us awake at our desks. Every moon has a name — so what is the December full moon called and what does it mean? I mean, besides that the season of blizzards and using excessive amounts of lip balm is here? Turns out, its name might have you howling for palm trees and warmer days.
December doesn't just sneak up on us. We have all summer to prepare for it and even an entire season to cushion the temperature change from sandal appropriate to sweater chic. And yet somehow when the first crisp gust of polar wind swipes my cheeks on my way out the door, I am left dumbfounded. Even if I'm prepared with a puffer coat, I rack my brain for answers about the turn of the season. "Excuse me, where did summer go?" "When did it change from sweater weather to having to cocoon myself in scarves to stay warm weather?" "Why did I take autumn's light breezes for granted and wish for chillier days drinking hot cocoa around a roaring fire?" Alas, I knew it would come, and so here it is, with a full moon whose name is weather appropriate.
Some full moon's have names that pertain to the orbital rock's use for Earthling activities. September's "Harvest Moon" or "Corn Moon," for example, refer to the time of year where farmers gather crops, sometimes late into the evening. The full moon's bright beam is utilized as a light that assists in the day to night harvest. June's "Strawberry Moon" isn't — unfortunately — a pink-hued moon. It's dubbed such a sweet name because June is the month in which we start seeing seasonal berries bloom. And so for December's own full moon rising on Dec. 3? It's straight forward.
The Farmer's Almanac reports December's Full Moon is the "Cold Moon." Shocked? Neither am I. Because, really, all you should be focusing on this month — besides Holiday shopping and circulating the rounds of parties — is staying warm. The full moon's official title is just a looming reminder of that.
As if the "Cold Moon" didn't nail this time of year enough, alternative names exist for December's full moon. The moon can also be referred to as "Full Long Night's Moon" or "Moon Before Yule." It all makes complete sense, too. True, our nights drag on around this time of year. But on a more positive note, the holidays are right around the corner so think of long nights as more of an ~everlasting~ opportunity to keep your holiday lights up and twinkling.
Full moon names date back hundreds of years ago when Native Americans like the Algonquin tribes in New England kept track of the seasons through the cycle of 12 moons. That explains names like "Strawberry Moon" and "Harvest Moon." June is the warm season to pick berries and September is the abundant season to collect all the corn in a farmer's field. December? It's the season to stay as bundled up as you possibly can. Because it is cold, especially if you're located in New England.
Even if temperatures are unseasonably moderate, and you think — like me — you can get away with a flimsy denim jacket, take December's full moon name as a warning of weather to come. Because it always does, without fail. And you won't want to be caught without two layers of pants, weather resistant gloves and a scarf that practically mummifies your face. Hey, the December "Cold Full Moon" told you so.