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The Longest Full Moon of the Year Rises on Christmas

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Dec 25, 2023

The year’s final full moon, known as the Cold Moon, will illuminate the night sky on December 26th, 2023. Occurring just after Christmas day, this full moon holds deep cultural and spiritual meaning. As the longest full moon of 2023, the Cold Moon offers a fitting culmination to the year.

When and How to See the Cold Moon

The Cold Moon will be at its fullest at 9:33 AM Pacific Time on December 26th (source). It will appear full for about 3 days around this time. The moon will rise in the east around sunset and set in the west around sunrise.

To see the full moon most clearly, find an open area with minimal obstacles like trees or buildings blocking your view of the horizon. The Cold Moon will be visible to the naked eye, no special equipment is needed. However, binoculars or a telescope can provide more detailed lunar viewing.

“The day of the full moon, Dec. 26, the moon will rise in the east around sunset and set in the west around sunrise the next morning,” said Diana Hannikainen, Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor.

Here are some key times for moonrise and moonset in major US cities (source):

City Moonrise Time Moonset Time
New York 4:47 PM EST 7:12 AM EST
Chicago 4:21 PM CST 7:36 AM CST
Denver 4:28 PM MST 7:19 AM MST
Los Angeles 4:56 PM PST 7:28 AM PST

The Meaning Behind the Cold Moon Name

The full moon in December is called the Cold Moon due to the frigid temperatures typical of midwinter (source). Other common names are the Long Night Moon referencing long winter nights, or the Moon Before Yule in reference to an ancient winter solstice festival.

To Northeastern Native American tribes, this was the Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon. The extreme cold and dark nights made hunting difficult, so tribes would gather supplies in autumn to last through winter (source). The full moon symbolized a faint light in the season’s longest period of darkness.

In Europe, the December full moon came to represent Yule tide feasts. People slaughtered livestock that could not be fed through winter, then feasted communally under the Cold Moon. Christians later linked this period to Advent and Christmas festivities.

A Rare Christmas Full Moon

What makes this Cold Moon special is its timing. The last time a full moon occurred on December 25th was in 1977 – over 45 years ago!

“Having it actually fall on Christmas night is really pretty uncommon,” noted Tom Kerss, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London.

The rarity of a Christmas full moon contributes to its spiritual meaning. Christmas and the full moon both represent hope, renewal, and bright lights in cold dark seasons. This year they poetically coincide.

How the Cold Moon May Impact You

For astrologers, the moon’s phase and position relative to zodiac constellations provides insight into upcoming personal shifts. December’s full moon occurs in Cancer, the cardinal water sign of emotions, family, and security needs.

According to the astrologers The Astrotwins (source):

“A luminous full moon in sensitive Cancer electrifies the night before Christmas, helping us end 2023 on a bright note! The Crab is the zodiac’s mother sign, so this lunar lift sets a sweet scene for family connections.”

So we can expect the Cancer Cold Moon to stir up deep feelings around home, childhood memories, and our most intimate bonds. It is a time for nurturing inner security (source).

Other astrologers including Lisa Stardust (source) say this full moon will illuminate truths and bring clarity to any illusions:

“Take time to reflect on the past year under December’s Full Moon in Cancer on the 26th, which will help you understand your feelings and gain clarity.”

Overall, the lunar energy seems cleansing yet emotional as we reflect back on 2023.

What Comes Next – The First of 13 Full Moons in 2024

After December’s Cold Moon, the moon will enter its waning gibbous phase heading toward the new moon around January 7, 2024 (source).

The next full moon will occur on January 21st, kicking off a year with 13 full moons – the most possible in a calendar year!

“2024 is special because there will be 13 full moons throughout the year, not 12,” said Diana Hannikainen. “The first full moon occurs on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2023, at 2:53 p.m. EST.”

So while December closes out 2023’s lunar cycles, it also builds anticipation for the abundant moons soon to come.

Conclusion

This year’s Cold Moon is uniquely meaningful as both the longest full moon of 2023 and a Christmas full moon – an alignment that has not occurred since 1977. As a lunar event steeped in cultural lore about yuletide feasts and the rebirth of brighter days, this full moon offers deeper reflection around the themes of renewal, hope, and cherishing heart-warming traditions with loved ones. Take time to glimpse its inspiring glow and contemplate all that 2023 brought you as you look toward the future promise of 2024’s bountiful moons to come.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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