The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark.
Other names that allude to the cold and snow include 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).
This full Moon has also been called the Long Night Moon (Mohican), as it rises during the “longest” nights of the year, which are near the December winter solstice. This name is doubly fitting because December’s full Moon shines above the horizon for a longer period of time than most full Moons.
Other names include Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers (Dakota) and Little Spirit Moon (Anishinaabe).
In Europe, ancient pagans called the December full Moon the “Moon Before Yule,” in honor of the Yuletide festival celebrating the return of the sun heralded by winter solstice.