Around the Island

‘Cold moon’ marks the coming end to 2020

A full moon rose last night to signal the end of the epic year 2020.

“The Cold Moon” — just one of its many names — is most distinctive, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, for hovering just above the horizon for a longer amount of time than other full moons.

It was named the Cold Moon by the Mohawk people because it illuminated a night that was the beginning of the coldest time of the year.

According to the Almanac, other names for the bright December moon are “Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree), Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Moon of the Popping Trees (Oglala),  Snow Moon (Haida, Cherokee), and Winter Maker Moon (Western Abenaki).”

The year’s last full moon is also known in northern Europe as the “Yule Moon,” which rose during a December festival and included a fair amount of enthusiastic partying. The ancient festival was called “Yule” by the Scandinavians. We have appropriated that as our “Yuletide” season.

The merry carrying-on by the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes was a celebration of the renewal of the sun after the solstice, to remember the dead, and express hopes for a successful harvest in the new year.