December Full Moon: Cold Moon in Northern Hemisphere

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The first full moon after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is called the cold moon. The December full moon that we know as the cold moon will occur on Tuesday, December 29, 2020. Not to mention, the December full moon in the Earth’s northern areas is also known as the Margashirsha Purnima, Long Night Moon, Moon before Yule, and the Oak Moon. On the contrary, for people living in the Southern Hemisphere; let’s say for Australian People, they call the December full moon the Strawberry Moon, Fruit Moon, and the Rose Moon. WHY? Because for them, this month’s full moon will be the first full moon after the summer solstice i.e the first day of summer in the southern hemisphere. Apart from that, whether you are living above or below the equator, it will be the last full moon of 2020. Wanna know why different full moon names in the different hemispheres and much more interesting facts about the December moon? Keep Reading! Ler’s dive right in! Highly recommended, Full Moon Calendar 2021 (Dates, Names & Moon Sign – Southern Hemisphere)  

Why Different Full Moon Names in Different Hemisphere?

Without wasting any more time, let me give you the exact reason behind it. Just because there is an approx 6 months of seasonal difference, the people living above and below the equator use different full moon names. For millennia, ancient humans have used different seasons as a guide to track the different full moon phases. Or, you can say for millennia, humans have used the full moon phases to track the changing season.

When there is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, there is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Pic credit: Wikimedia Commons

Obviously, now you would be thinking that what could be the reason behind the seasonal difference between the two hemispheres? Just because the earth has an axial tilt of 23.4 degrees, there is a seasonal mismatch between the southern and the northern hemisphere. See the above image for proper understanding. On the contrary, If you want to know more about the earth’s tilt and how it affects the seasons on the earth, you can check this article. I can bet you will love this piece of article.  

Different Full Moon Names for December Full Moon

Just to clarify, seasons are not the only way possible to provide different full moon names. I mean the names given to the various full moon phases are based upon a couple of different sources. In other words, different people have given different full moon names depending upon their native place or their cultural lifestyle. In fact, even mythological characters had played their role in the naming of the full moon phases. Check out, 8 Lunar Phases – From New Moon to Full Moon to New Moon Out of all, the most famous, and, of course, widely acknowledged full moon names came from the tribes of native American culture. As per the legends, in order to keep track of changing seasons, the Algonquin tribal people used to follow the lunar calendar rather than following the solar calendar. These full moon names were adopted by Colonial Americans and European settlers. Later with time, these names were integrated with the modern (Georgian calendar) calendar.  

December Full Moon: Cold Moon in Northern Hemisphere

In the northern hemisphere, the full moon in December is known as the Cold Moon or Full Cold Moon. WHY? Because in the northern hemisphere, the winter season specifically begins from the month of December. Must read, December Solstice: First Day of Winter in Northern Hemisphere Not to mention, the native American people not only call this full moon a cold moon. They also used to call the full moon in this month the long night moon. WHY? Because the full moon in this month occurs just after the arrival of the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere i.e winter solstice. Just before and after the winter solstice, the Sun’s orbital path across the sky is as low as it can be. Therefore, as a result, the full moon in December shines in the night sky for the longest period of time. Must read, December Solstice: First Day of Summer in Southern Hemisphere  

December Full Moon: Margashirsha Purnima in India

As I am an Indian. Therefore, I would like to mention the Indian perception about December month’s full moon. First of all, a full moon in Hindi (Indian Language) is famously known as Purnima. Therefore, as per traditional Indian guidelines, the full moon in December is known as Margashirsha Purnima. In terms of the Hindu calendar 2020, the moon will be in Karka Rashi. This lunar full moon of Margasirsa (December/January) is celebrated as the birth anniversary of the Hindu god Dattatreya (a combined form of Hindu Male Trinity God). This trinity god is the combination of three Fundamental Hindu God i.e Lord Brahma (The Creator Of The Universe), Lord Vishnu (The Preserver Of The Universe), and Lord Shiva (The Destroyer Of The Universe). See also, Why We Celebrate Maha Shivaratri (Mahadev Festival)

Other cultural Full Moon names

Well, if you go somewhere away from your native place, you will see that local indigenous people have their own indigenous full moon names. For example:

  • Chinese people call December full moon a Bitter Moon.
  • Medieval English people call it an Oak Moon.
  • European call it a Night Before Yule.
  • Choctaw tribe people call it a Peach Moon, etc.


When is the Next Full Moon in December?

The next full moon will occur on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, and is known as the full cold moon. Okay, for the northerners, it will be Cold Moon. And, for the southerner, it will be a Strawberry Moon. Additionally, on this day, the moon will be in Cancer. At last, I wish you good luck with this epic moon gazing. And, do let me know about your amazing experience in the comment section.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many phases of the moon are there?

Ans. In total, there are 8 lunar phases of the moon which can be divided into two subdivisions.  In the primary subdivision, there are 4 phases of the moon. These are New Moon, First Quarter Moon, Full Moon, Last Quarter Moon. Similarly, in the secondary subdivision, there are Waxing Crescent Moon, Waxing Gibbous Moon, Waning Gibbous Moon, and Waning Crescent Moon.

2. How many full moons in one year?

Ans. Generally, there are 12 full moons in one year corresponding to each month. But, sometimes there are 13 full moons in a year (Just like the year 2020). The additional full moon is known as the blue moon.

4. List of full moon names by month for the northern hemisphere.

Ans. Here is the list of complete full moon names of 2021 for the northern hemisphere.

  • January full moon – Wolf Moon
  • February full moon – Snow Moon
  • March full moon – Worm Moon
  • April full moon – Pink Moon
  • May full moon – Flower Moon
  • June full moon – Strawberry Moon
  • July full moon – Buck Moon
  • August full moon – Sturgeon Moon
  • September full moon – Corn Moon
  • October full moon – Harvest Moon and Blue Moon
  • November full moon – Beaver Moon
  • December full moon – Cold Moon

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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