Each month’s full moon has a special name, often given by Indigenous tribes as well as other people in the Northern Hemisphere. December’s full moon is most popularly known as the Cold Moon by the Mohawk people.
The Many Names of the December Full Moon
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, December’s full moon has a few other evocative names for the season: Drift Clearing Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree), Moon of the Popping Trees (Oglala), Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Snow Moon (Haida, Cherokee), and Winter Maker Moon (Western Abenaki).
Mohican people have also called this moon the Long Night Moon, partly because it rises near the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. December’s moon also tends to hang above the horizon a little longer than many other full moons.
The winter solstice, which falls on December 21, is the pinnacle of moon season. This is the darker half of the year when we tend to see the moon more often in the sky. From a spiritual perspective, this is the time for inward work, like learning, reflecting, meditating, and praying, while the brighter half of the year is better suited to external practices, like producing, creating, and expressing. The winter solstice also comes with the holiday season; the ancient pagans called this month’s moon the Moon Before Yule.
How to Balance the Energy of the December Full Moon
The energy of the Cold Moon and the winter solstice can be balanced with warm connection, candlelight, and nourishing food, along with plenty of rest and quiet. When we honor this energy in balance, we spend more time sleeping, reflecting, and dreaming. We dedicate more time absorbing information from our elders, spending time with the ones we love the most, and sharing food, stories, and our learnings. This energy can feel quieter and gentler than the warmer days of the year.
However, this time of year often brings a sense of imbalance—staying up late trying to finish projects, going to parties and spending time with new people, and flying to different places for the holidays can leave us feeling burnt out and uneasy. When the holiday season brings a sense of rush and overwhelm, it’s easy to feel depressed and stressed, and it’s even easier to get sick.
Here are some ways we can help ourselves to stay in balance and honor the spiritual meanings of the December full moon:
Slow down. Are there tasks you could delegate? Timelines you could extend? Help you could ask for? Pressure you could take off yourself?
Plan a holiday season that includes spending time with people you feel you can be totally yourself with.
Eat delicious, nourishing seasonal foods for pleasure and connection.
Have a self-care plan in place for potentially stressful events. Allow yourself to leave a gathering to take a break, and make sure you have a way to get home if you leave early. Take a day of rest and recovery afterward if you feel the need.
If you are traveling, spend some time outside early in your trip. (Bundle up if it’s cold!) Introduce yourself to this foreign land (or a different part of your homeland) as a guest through a silent or spoken prayer, and get to know it a little bit—explore a local park or the beach. Let the land support you in recalibrating.
Nap when you feel like sleep could benefit you. Go to bed earlier when possible so that you get the rest you need.
Regularly admire the moon. The December full moon should be bright and present through much of the night, so go out and enjoy the moonlight or look through a window.
Make moon water and drink it in tea or add it to a warm bath.
Meditate daily, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Spend that time lovingly listening to your body.
Happy December full moon!
**By Julie Peters