There will be a full moon on Christmas for the first time since 1977. Santa and his reindeer will be able to find their way more easily thanks to the big glowing moon, which will hang in the sky on Christmas Eve. Ironically, the last Christmas full moon occurred when the first Star Wars movie was released — the latest installment in the popular series will hit the big screen as folks unwrap presents this year.
The full moon Christmas, or Yuletide moon as the Farmer’s Almanac calls it, will occur during the time of year when the days are at their shortest and the nights are at their darkest. The contrast between the dark winter sky and the bright light of the full moon is being highly anticipated by both photographers and those inspired by the Christmas spirit and have evening caroling, live nativity scenes, and sunset sleigh rides planned.
— TIME.com (@TIME) December 14, 2015
The Christmas full moon has also been long referred to as the “full cold moon,” “the moon before Yule,” and the “the full long nights moon.” Native Americans referred to the December full moon as the long nights moon because it kicked of their annual winter solstice celebration, which culminated on the longest day of the year. The winter solstice annually occurs at 11:49 p.m. on December 21. That date is known as the shortest day of the year, and brings to an end the long nights as we begin to gain one extra minute of daylight each day. The winter solstice lasts exactly 6 hours and 12 minutes less than the summer solstice that occurs in June, according to a Detroit Free Press report.
According to the records kept by NASA, a full moon occurrence on Christmas is very rare, and has only happened three times since 1900. The next time a Christmas full moon will reportedly occur is in the year 2034.
Although there will be a full moon on Christmas, there might not be snow. Unseasonably warm weather in the Eastern United States could decrease the chances of a picturesque white Christmas this year. Even folks who adore the long warm days of summer are often agreeable to having a blanket of snow on the ground for Christmas morning.
The NOAA addressed questions the likelihood of having white Christmas and a full moon this year in a recent blog post.
“Most of Idaho, Minnesota, Maine, Upstate New York, the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and, of course, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada Mountains all have a high probability of seeing a white Christmas. And, Aspen, Colorado, is just one of about a dozen locations boasting a 100% historical probability of seeing a white Christmas.”
The first Christmas full moon for 38 years: https://t.co/Z7Pggs47D9pic.twitter.com/RmJeEhHHbH
— Bristol Post (@BristolPost) December 14, 2015
The act of naming specific full moons and labeling full months which occur in specific months is a centuries old tradition. Many cultures have their own titles for full moons, causing each month to boast moons with several nicknames. The Celtic, Old English, Chinese, Native American, and New Guinea as just a sampling of the cultures which began naming moons hundreds or thousands of years ago, the Moon Connection reports. The naming of moons was done, at least in part, to keep track of the seasons, and to identify the changing of time that we now refer to as months. When European settlers first arrived and established settlements in America, they began adopting the Native American tradition of naming full moons — and invented some of their own monikers for the changing shape of the big orb in the sky.
The Christmas full moon will reach its peak around 6:11 a.m. on December 25, according to Discovery.
Will you be going outside and enjoying the rare full moon Christmas occurrence?
[Image via Shutterstock]