Last night's full moon was the last full moon of this calendar year, although it seems only yesterday that Spencer and I were out in the garden shivering and watching the first full moon of the year rise over our sleeping trees. Whatever the time of year, trees on the hill do their best to frame the rising moon, leafed out in spring and summer, robed in russet leaves in autumn, bare branched and embracing in winter. It has been an unusually mild season so far, and many oak trees on the crest are still wearing their leaves.
The thirteen moons of a calendar year wear different names, faces and personalities according to one's culture, where one happens to live in the world and what the seasonal activities of one's native place are. There are common threads or themes to lunar lore though, and the moon's names provide food for thought about the nature of community, hearth and connection. They speak eloquently of timeless natural rhythms and the calendar of the seasons: springtime and green things springing from the earth, planting and weeding, hunting, harvesting and gathering in, rest and regeneration.
December's moon falls at the darkest time of year in the north, and for me it will always be the Elder Moon or the Long Nights Moon. The elder tree is December's symbol in the Celtic tree calendar, and this month's moon falls during the darkest time of the year, so both names are apt. This is also the month of my birthday, and so I have particular fondness for the winter orb shining above us all by night.
It makes me happy to think that when January's full moon appears, daylight hours will be lengthening, and we will be on our way to Spring and warmth. Having said that, we will be making our slow and careful way through bitter cold, deep snow, (hopefully) and high winds, and there is a long way to go. Now and then, the vaults of heaven will be full of stars at night, and there will be confetti skies at sunrise. Such celestial doings make journeying through the Great Round a joyous undertaking, and in all the frenetic "toing and froing" of the holiday season, that is a fine thought to cling to.
We also know this moon as the: Ashes Fire Moon, Bauhinia Moon, Bear Moon, Beginning of the Winter Moon, Big Bear's Moon, Big Winter Moon, Birch Moon, Center Moon's Younger Brother, Cold Moon, Cold Time Moon, Bitter Moon, Deer Shed Their Horns Moon, Dumannos Moon, Eccentric Moon, Evergreen Moon, Frozen over Moon, Heavy Snow Moon, Holy Moon, Hellebore Moon, Her Winter Houses Moon, Hunting Moon, Ice Lasts All Day Moon, Ice Moon, Little Finger Moon, Little Spirits Moon, Long Nights Moon, Long Snows Moon, Midwinter Moon, Moon of Cold, Moon of Long Nights, Moon of Much Cold, Moon of Popping Trees, Moon of Putting Your Paddle Away in the Bush, Moon of Respect, Moon When Buffalo Cow's Fetus Is Getting Large, Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns, Moon When Little Black Bears Are Born, Moon When the Young Fellow Spreads the Brush, Moon When the Wolves Run Together, Moon When the Sun Has Traveled South to His Home to Rest Before He Starts Back on His Journey North, Narcissus Moon, Night Moon, Oak Moon, Paulownia Moon, Peach Moon, Poinsettia Moon, Popping Trees Moon, Poppy Moon, Real Goose Moon, Sap Moon, Sjelcasen Moon, Solstice Moon, Snow Moon, Star Frost Moon, Turning Moon, Twelfth Moon, Under Burn Moon, White Orchid Tree Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Winter Moon, World Darkness Moon, Yule Moon
The last full moon of the year rose on Christmas night, so it is (and ought to be) called the "Yule Moon". Among other monikers, I also like "Midwinter Moon" and "Little Spirits Moon".