by Sid Baglini
Saturday, December 18, 2021, 7:30 PM
Our December full moon blooms exactly one week before Christmas and will add to the extravaganza of night lights that decorate our village during the holiday season. In addition to admiring the lunar light show, we will stroll by Burke Park to see the town Christmas tree, and then view some of the decorated homes on several streets nearby. Because the moon rises a little after 4:00 PM that evening, we will be seeing the moon high in its trajectory across the sky, rather than rising above the trees on the Paoli Battlefield.
Most commonly known as The Cold Moon, the full moon of December has many monikers relating to the plunging temperatures associated with the winter solstice, which falls on December 21st at 10:59 a.m. this year. The Chinese call it The Bitter Moon while Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Snow Moon (Cherokee), and Winter Making Moon (Abenaki) all capture the same shivery image. Even more bone-chilling are the references to a degree of cold that caused the sap in trees to freeze, expanding until the bark splits and the wood contracts, causing a sound like a gunshot. This is captured in the names Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree) and Moon of Popping Trees (Ogalala and Dakota). Safe within our homes, we have probably never experienced this, but for Native Americans in their tents or wigwams, the sounds emanating from the exploding trees must have made for fitful sleep. The Mohicans referenced the relationship of the December full moon to the winter solstice calling it The Long Night Moon, and the pagans of Europe similarly celebrated the lengthening minutes of sun after the solstice, calling it the Moon Before Yule.
As an antidote to all that icy, cold moon talk, let’s momentarily look to the southern hemisphere, where the same full moon we will be gazing at is called The Egg Moon, Fish Moon, and Pink Moon (for the blooming flowers). If you have been walking with us for a while, you may recall that those are names for the full moons we experience in April and May.
While the planets Venus and Mercury will have set shortly after dusk, Jupiter and Saturn should still be visible in the night sky as we walk.
While December is always a busy month, and Saturday night is a party night, if you can squeeze in a walk with us under a winter moon, we’d love to have you join us. If you have visitors or kids home from college, bring them along. We meet for our walks in the First Avenue parking lot of the First Baptist Church, under the sign for Malvern Arts. Join us to enjoy Nature’s lights and Malvern’s Christmas lights all in one walk!