December's full moon - a cold moon

December’s Full Moon: The Significance, Symbolism, and Folklore of the Cold Moon

As December’s chill wraps the world in a frosty hug, we are gifted with a nighttime spectacle that calls out to our innate sense of wonder—December’s Full Moon, the Cold Moon. This full moon of December is a glowing beacon in the long, dark nights, nudging us to step outside and breathe in the crisp, wintry air.

The name “Cold Moon” speaks to the simple truth of nature’s rhythm—the dropping temperatures and the landscape’s quiet slumber. Just as the beavers busy themselves in November, the Cold Moon’s brilliance in December reflects the stillness of the land, reminding us of the quiet beauty and the stark contrasts of the season.

Under the Cold Moon’s watchful eye, the world seems to slow down, inviting us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It’s a celestial prompt to cozy up in the comforting glow of its light, to find peace and a moment of stillness in the hectic rush of our routines.

In the coming pages, we’ll explore the spiritual significance and the ancestral wisdom that the Cold Moon holds. We’ll share in the stories woven into its light and learn how we can set intentions under its watchful gaze, connecting more deeply with the cycles of the earth and the knowledge of those who walked the land before us.

December's full moon - a cold moon

WHEN WILL WE SEE DECEMBER’S FULL MOON?

 

As December comes along with its chilly air, let’s look up to the sky for a special show. On Sunday, December 15th 2024, at 4:02 A.M. EST, the Full Cold Moon will light up the sky. It’s a sight you won’t want to miss.

The Cold Moon gets its name because it happens in one of the coldest months. On this night, the air feels extra crisp, the stars shine a little brighter, and the moon glows with a soft, silver light. It’s like the moon is telling us old stories and inviting us to enjoy quiet, cozy nights.

If you enjoy the calmness of nature like I do, this is a great time to connect with the peaceful side of winter. Find a comfortable spot outside, maybe with a warm blanket, and watch as December’s full moon rises. Let its light wash over you, and take some time to think about the past year and the new one coming.

December 15th isn’t just about seeing the moon’s beauty; it’s about feeling connected to nature and understanding our place in the big, wonderful world. December’s full moon reminds us of winter’s quiet power, the loveliness of still moments, and the hope for new beginnings that winter brings.

To ensure you make the most of this celestial display, consider consulting a Moonrise and Moonset Calculator, which can provide you with precise Full Moon rise times for your location. This valuable tool guarantees that you won’t miss a moment of the moon’s graceful ascent and descent, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the enchantment of the night.

So, remember to step outside on December 15th. Let’s all enjoy the Cold Moon together, feeling happy for the natural world around us. Nights like this help us see the simple, true beauty of our world.
February's full moon
December's full moon

WHAT IS A FULL MOON?

When the Moon is full, we see it as a complete circle in the sky. This is because the whole of the side of the Moon facing the Earth is lit up by the Sun’s rays. The Moon produces no visible light of its own, so we can only see the parts of the Moon that are lit up by other objects. A small amount of light comes from distant stars and the reflection of light from the Earth (known as ‘Earthshine’). However, the main source of light for the Moon is the Sun.
 
The Full Moon phase is the third of four primary lunar phases, along with the New Moon, the Third Quarter, and the First Quarter. It is considered a highly spiritual time and is the most spectacular of all four phases. It is during this time that the Moon appears at its brightest and largest. Likewise, it marks the most visible phase of the lunar cycle. 
march's full moon
December's full moon

FULL MOON ENERGY

Ancient peoples used the Full Moon and the Lunar calendar to track the seasons. They named each Full Moon for an entire month, not just for the night of its fullest phase. Each Full Moon has its own energy, and this energy is magnified during a Full Moon. The Full Moon does not just affect us humans; it also affects animals and the Earth itself. A Full Moon causes bigger ocean tides and even extreme meteorological conditions.

Here’s a bit more info on each of the year’s moons: The 12 Full Moons: Their Names, Meaning, and Magical Influence
 

Full moon – Two weeks after the new moon, it becomes wholly illuminated by the sun. Hence, we have a full moon, and its orbit is halfway completed.

How do I harness its energy? — During a Full Moon, our emotions are amplified and dreams are intensified. For some people, it is a time of balanced energies. The light of the full moon illuminates our world, allowing us to see the situations in our lives and in our relationships with other people more clearly. It allows us to see things we have ignored or repressed, but also allows us to let go of things or people we have outgrown. Full Moons are a good time to start a new ritual or project.

December's full moon - a cold moon
December's full moon

WHY IS DECEMBER’S FULL MOON NAMED THE COLD MOON?

The name “Cold Moon” for December’s full moon comes from the Mohawk people. This name is apt as it describes the chilly conditions that are common at this time of year, with the cold weather starting to take a firm hold. The Mohawk people traditionally lived in southeastern Canada and northern New York State, where the winter weather is indeed cold and harsh. This title is part of a tradition of naming full moons that likely comes from a mix of Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional sources that have been passed down through generations.

The Cold Moon is a direct reflection of the season’s character, signaling the start of true winter temperatures and the long, cold nights that accompany the end of the year. This name, like many others for the full moons throughout the year, is not just a label but a connection to the rhythms of nature and the environment in which the Mohawk people and their ancestors lived.

December’s Full Moon is known by several names besides the Cold Moon, each carrying its own unique story and significance:

  1. Long Night’s Moon: As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, this name reflects the extended darkness we experience around the time of the Winter Solstice.

  2. Drift Clearing Moon: This name comes from the Cree people and describes the time when snow drifts become pronounced, reshaping the landscape and changing the way paths are cleared through the snow.

  3. Frost Exploding Trees Moon: Another name from the Cree that paints a vivid picture of the sound trees make when temperatures drop rapidly, causing the sap to freeze and expand until the bark bursts.

  4. Hoar Frost Moon: This name, also from the Cree, signifies the time when hoar frost blankets the trees, creating a sparkling landscape as the moonlight reflects off the frost’s crystals.

  5. Little Spirit Moon: A name from the Anishinabe People that might reflect the belief in the increased presence of spirits or the honoring of the little spirits of nature during the deep winter.

  6. Mid-winter Moon: Signifying the midpoint of winter, this name is a reminder that we are halfway through the cold season, with spring on the horizon.

  7. Moon of the Popping Trees: Adopted by the Oglala, this name also refers to the sound of trees cracking in the cold, a common occurrence as the wood responds to freezing temperatures.

  8. Snow Moon: Used by the Haida and Cherokee, this name is self-explanatory, highlighting the typical heavy snowfalls of December.

  9. Winter Maker Moon: A name from the Western Abenaki that alludes to the moon that brings the winter weather, encapsulating the essence of the season.

Each name tells a story of the natural world during December, a time of profound transformation and quiet beauty. These names not only mark the season but also serve as a reminder of our connection to nature and the cycles that govern the world around us. 

march's full moon
December's full moon

SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLD MOON

December’s Full Moon arrives with its own unique spiritual meanings, offering us a chance to connect with the deep and restorative energies of winter. Here’s what this special moon brings to our spiritual table:

Closure and Clarity: Just as December’s Full Moon casts its bright light on the long, dark nights, it also illuminates our innermost thoughts and feelings. This is a time for introspection, to think about what we’ve achieved and what we’re ready to leave behind. It’s a chance to clear away the old to make room for the new.

Peace and Stillness: During this time, the world slows down a bit. December’s Full Moon asks us to find tranquility and stillness within ourselves. As nature becomes still, we’re encouraged to do the same, finding peace in the quiet of the winter landscape.

Reconnecting with the Earth: This moon’s arrival in the cold heart of winter is a reminder to reconnect with the Earth. It’s a perfect moment to step outside, feel the crisp air, and notice the silence of the world around us. This connection can bring us back to ourselves and to the simple truths of nature.

Reflection and Intention: The end of the year is near, and December’s Full Moon provides a natural time for reflection. What have we learned this year? What intentions do we want to set for the new year? This moon is our guide as we look inward and decide what’s next on our path.

Appreciation and Generosity: December is often a time of giving and gratitude. The Full Cold Moon reinforces this spirit, reminding us to be thankful for what we have and to share with others. It’s a time to celebrate the abundance in our lives, even if that abundance is as simple as a warm home or a good friend.

Aligning with Lunar Energy: Each full moon brings its own energy, and the Cold Moon comes with the power of endurance and resilience. It reflects the strength we need to get through the darker times, both literally and metaphorically. This is a moon that celebrates our ability to endure, to conserve our energy, and to prepare for the growth to come.

Remember, the spiritual significance of the Cold Moon, like any full moon, is deeply personal. Some may find these interpretations resonate with them, while others may discover their own meanings. What’s important is that you take the time to observe, reflect, and connect in the way that feels right to you.

December's full moon - a cold moon
December's full moon

THE FOLKLORE OF DECEMBER’S FULL MOON

The allure of December’s Full Moon extends far beyond its luminous glow. Across cultures and through the ages, this moon phase has woven a tapestry of folklore and tradition, captivating the hearts and minds of those who gaze upon it.

Native American Influence: The Cold Moon is deeply rooted in the traditions of Native American tribes, particularly the Mohawk, who coined its frosty moniker. This moon symbolized the onset of peak winter conditions, a time when tribes would hunker down and endure the bitter cold. It was a period of conservation, reflection, and deep respect for the harsh beauty of nature.

Colonial Adaptations: When European colonists settled in North America, they absorbed the Native American names for the moons. The Cold Moon became a reminder for these newcomers of the stark change in the climate, contrasting greatly from their homelands, and the need to prepare for the northeastern winter’s bite.

Agricultural Practices: For farmers, the Cold Moon signaled the end of the harvest season. The full moon’s light served as a guide for completing the final tasks on the farm before the land was gripped by frost and snow. It was a time to gather, to store, and to plan for the scarcity of winter.

European Lore: In Europe, where the moon names differ, December’s Full Moon still held significance. Though not always called the Cold Moon, it marked a time of dormancy and preparation. For some, it was a signal to celebrate the last of the year’s bounty and to make ready for the festive season ahead.

In Celtic tradition, the period leading up to the December Full Moon encompasses the Elder Month, which is the last month in the cycle of the 13 Celtic months, symbolizing endings and rebirth—a theme that resonates with the death and regeneration cycle of nature during winter. The Elder Moon, falling within this time, is seen as a period to halt restrictive patterns and embrace healing and renewal as the year closes. It’s a time to reflect on the past and to dream of new aspirations for the coming year.

Elder magic and lore are deeply interwoven with the symbolism of the Full Moon. The elder tree represents judgment, transformation, death, regeneration, and fate. It was known as the “Queen of all Herbs,” with all its parts used medicinally. This tree was considered to protect against negative entities and was used in magic connected to faeries and other nature spirits. The elder tree, associated with the Mother Goddess, embodies the cycle of life and death, making it a powerful symbol during the Full Moon.

Modern-Day Observances: Today, the Cold Moon still inspires a sense of wonder and a connection to the cycles of the earth. People may gather for evening celebrations, engage in winter rituals, or take a moment to meditate under its bright light. It’s a time for community, for sharing stories, and for embracing the quiet of winter.

The Cold Moon’s presence in the December sky is a beacon through the long nights, a companion in the silence of winter, and a symbol of the cycle of the seasons. Its folklore and the traditions it inspires remind us to slow down, to reflect, and to appreciate the stillness and beauty of the natural world.

December's full moon - a cold moon
December's full moon

Full Moon Calendar 2024

In 2024, there will be 12 full moons. Mark your calendars accordingly! Here are the dates for the 2024 full moons: 

January 25, 2024 (The Full Wolf Moon)

On Thursday, January 25, 2024, at 12:54 PM EST, witness the Full Wolf Moon, marking the second full moon of winter. It’s also known as the Ice Moon, Old Moon, Moon After Yule, and Snow Moon.

February 24, 2024 (Full Snow Moon)

The Full Snow Moon graces the sky on Saturday, February 24, 2024, at 7:30 AM EST, signaling the end of winter. It’s alternatively called the Hunger Moon, Chaste Moon, and Storm Moon.

March 25, 2024 (Full Worm Moon)

Catch the Full Worm Moon on Monday, March 25, 2024, at 3:00 AM EDT, ushering in the first full moon of spring. This moon is also referred to as the Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Chaste Moon, Sugar Moon, and Lenten Moon. A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse coincides with this full moon.

April 23, 2024 (Full Pink Moon)

The Full Pink Moon appears on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 7:49 PM EDT, marking spring’s second full moon. It’s also known as the Egg Moon, Full Sprouting Grass Moon, and Full Fish Moon, the latter commonly used by coastal indigenous tribes.

May 23, 2024 (Full Flower Moon)

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, at 9:53 AM EDT, the Full Flower Moon emerges as the last full moon of spring. It’s also called the Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon.

June 21, 2024 (Full Strawberry Moon)

The Full Strawberry Moon, the first full moon of summer, will be visible on Friday, June 21, 2024, at 9:08 PM EDT. Other names include the Rose Moon, Mead Moon, and Honey Moon.

July 21, 2024 (Full Buck Moon)

Sunday, July 21, 2024, at 6:17 AM EDT, brings the Full Buck Moon, the second full moon of summer. It’s also known as the Thunder Moon and Hay Moon.

August 19, 2024 (Full Sturgeon Moon)

The Super Sturgeon Moon, a seasonal blue moon and the third full moon of summer, occurs on Monday, August 19, 2024, at 2:26 PM EDT. It’s the first of four 2024 supermoons. Other names include the Barley Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Fruit Moon, Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Herb Moon, Red Moon, and Wyrt Moon.

September 17, 2024 (Full Harvest Moon)

Tuesday, September 17, 2024, at 10:34 PM EDT, features the Super Harvest Moon, the last full moon of summer and the second of four supermoons in 2024. A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse coincides with this moon. It’s also known as the Full Corn Moon in other years.

October 17, 2024 (Full Hunter’s Moon)

The Super Hunter’s Moon, the closest full moon of 2024 and the first of autumn, will be on Thursday, October 17, 2024, at 7:26 AM EDT.

November 15, 2024 (Full Beaver Moon)

On Friday, November 15, 2024, at 4:28 PM EST, the Super Beaver Moon, the second full moon of autumn and the last of the 2024 supermoons, will be visible. It’s also known as the Frosty Moon.

December 15, 2024 (Full Cold Moon)

The year concludes with the Full Cold Moon on Sunday, December 15, 2024, at 4:02 AM EST, the final full moon of autumn. Other names are the Long Nights Moon and the Oak Moon.

the full wolf moon

WAYS TO HONOR DECEMBER'S FULL MOON

Honoring December’s Full Moon, also known as the Cold Moon, can be a deeply personal and spiritual experience. Here are ten ways to embrace and celebrate this special time:

  1. Moonlit Walk: Venture out for a walk under the moonlight. Feel the crisp winter air and observe the moon’s reflection on snow or water.

  2. Meditation and Reflection: Spend time meditating under the moon, reflecting on the past year and setting intentions for the new one.

  3. Moon Journaling: Write in a journal by moonlight, focusing on gratitude, lessons learned, and hopes for the future.

  4. Create a Moon Altar: Set up a small altar with items that represent the moon and winter, such as white or silver candles, crystals like moonstone or clear quartz, and winter evergreens.

  5. Candle Ritual: Light a candle and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, focusing on releasing what no longer serves you and inviting new energy.

  6. Moon Water: Place a container of water outside under the full moon to create moon water, which can be used for cleansing, in rituals, or as a drink for renewal.

  7. Gathering with Loved Ones: Host a small gathering where you can share stories, music, or poetry inspired by the moon and the winter season.

  8. Nature Offerings: Leave offerings for wildlife, such as seeds or nuts, as a gesture of gratitude and connection to nature.

  9. Herbal Tea Ritual: Brew a cup of herbal tea, choosing herbs that align with the moon’s energy, like chamomile or lavender, and sip it while moon gazing.

  10. Moon Photography: Capture the beauty of the Cold Moon through photography, creating a visual memory of this phase of the lunar cycle.

Remember, the key to honoring the Full Moon is to do so in a way that feels meaningful to you, whether it involves quiet introspection or sharing the moment with others.

December's full moon - a cold moon
December's full moon

MEDITATION TO HONOR DECEMBER’S FULL MOON

As December’s Full Moon rises, casting a silvery glow across the quiet winter landscape, take a moment to settle into a comfortable space where the moonlight can touch you, or imagine its presence if you are indoors.

Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, inhaling, and exhaling any tension or worries. Visualize the moon’s rays as a gentle, cleansing light, bathing you in a silvery glow.

With each breath in, draw in the moon’s energy, feeling it fill you with calm and peace. As you breathe out, release thoughts and feelings that no longer serve you, letting them dissipate into the night.

Now, picture yourself standing in a snow-covered landscape, the Full Cold Moon bright above you. Reflect on the cycle of the year gone by – the growth, the harvest, and now the quiet and rest of winter. Contemplate the lessons you’ve learned and the wisdom you’ve gained.

As you stand under December’s Full Moon, think about your hopes and dreams for the coming year. What intentions would you like to set? What do you wish to bring into your life? Imagine these desires as seeds, planting them in the fertile ground beneath the moonlight.

Spend a few moments basking in the moon’s glow, feeling its strength and stability. Know that just like the moon, you have phases and cycles, and each has its own beauty and purpose.

When you are ready, take three deep breaths, bringing your awareness back to the present. Open your eyes, carrying the peace and clarity of the moon’s light with you into the days ahead.

GET THE FREE 2024 LUNAR CALENDAR

Free 2024 Lunar Calendar

IN CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed learning some meaning, cultural significance, and history surrounding December’s full moon. Keep in mind that there are many other full moons throughout the year, each one with its own unique history, meaning, and folklore. 

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