While calling December’s full moon the cold moon is perhaps the most logical nickname for it, there are other names that can refer to this moon phase. These include the drift clearing moon, frost exploding trees moon, and hoar frost moon – all of which come from the Cree people, the moon of the popping trees (Oglala), the snow moon (Haida, Cherokee), and the long night moon (Mohican).
This last nickname also makes a lot of sense, as the December full moon occurs during the time of year when the days are short and the nights are long in the Northern Hemisphere, surrounding the winter solstice.
In Europe, pagan groups have also called the December full moon the “moon before yule,” referring to the Yule festival at the winter solstice.
You might wonder how often the long night moon falls on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This has happened just 10 times since 1800, and most recently occurred in 2018.
If you missed that long night moon, the next completely accurate one will occur on Dec. 21, 2094.