What is a Cold Moon? The December Full Moon’s Spiritual Meaning

What is a Cold Moon? The December Full Moon’s Spiritual Meaning

Did you know there’s at least one full moon every single month? Each moon has a name thanks to early Native American tribes, who christened the moons based on the seasons. Some moons reflect the active fauna or blooming flora, while others reference tribal activities such as the hunting or harvesting.

December’s full moon is commonly called the Cold Moon. It also goes by other names such as the Long Night’s Moon or the Winter’s Maker Moon.

Full moon rising behind a snowy mountain
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When Is the Cold Moon?


The Cold Moon falls in December. It comes after the Beaver Moon, when the settlers would set their traps before the ponds and rivers froze, and before the Wolf Moon, when haunting howls of the wolf packs carried across the frozen midwinter landscape.

This year, the Cold Moon will reach its peak brightness on Tuesday, December 26, 2023 at 7:33 p.m. ET. This is the last full moon of the year, and it will illuminate one of the longest nights as we shift back toward the light half of the year now that the winter solstice has passed.

Cold Moon Meaning: Why Is It Called a Cold Moon?


Depending on the region, the first blanket of snow has usually settled over the landscape by the time this full moon makes its appearance. However, this year is El Niño, which affects tradewinds and weather patterns. In the 1600s, South American fishermen referred to this period of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean as “El Niño de Navidad” because the natural phase typically peaks around December.

El Niño can affect our weather significantly. The warmer waters cause the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position. With this shift, areas in the northern U.S. and Canada are dryer and warmer than usual. But in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Southeast, these periods are wetter than usual and have increased flooding.

Source: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html

For many in North America, this Yuletide season has been warm and rainy instead of cold and snowy. That was the case at my home in the Midwest; we had a record-breaking heat wave for Christmas. Still, even if the weather doesn’t feel as cold as normal, the leaves have fallen and the first frost has passed.

The celebration of Yule and the winter solstice occurs in December, marking the shortest day of the year. With winter’s official arrival on the solstice and the longest night of the year, the Cold Moon was aptly named for the season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Cold Moon Spiritual Meaning


What does the Cold Moon mean to us on a spiritual level?

Depending on the year, this moon arrives either right before or right after the winter solstice. We find beauty in the seemingly dead landscape, be it the everlasting green of the holly and pine, or the unique shape of seed pods left in the garden, or the glitter of frost and snow beneath the Cold Moon.

Take time to slow down and appreciate every step forward you’ve made this year. Now is a time for reflection and rest. Just as the Earth and its creatures are hibernating, this is your time to recharge. Our fast-paced society pressures us to go-go-go while shaming us for “being lazy” when we rest, but the truth is, our bodies, minds, and souls need to rest. It’s not only healthy; it’s necessary for us to function. Nature reminds us of that when we pause from the daily grind and take heed.

Be calm. Be grateful. Find the light in the depths of the long nights, and if you can’t find it, light a candle to bring your own light to the darkness. Soon enough, it will be a new year and a time to set new intentions.

Remember that a tree can’t keep growing indefinitely; it needs time to conserve its energy before its next big push come spring, and so do you. Meditate. Quiet your mind. Reflect.

Full Cold Moon rising over snowcapped mountains

Cold Moon Altar Tips, Colors, Crystals, & Symbols


For your altar, the best colors for the Cold Moon are white, silver, red, and green (also great candle colors to use if you want to match your candle wax with the energy of your intentions).

Fire is always a powerful symbol when it comes to lunar and Sabbat rituals, although battery-operated candles or string lights can be a good substitute if you don’t want open flames in your home.

Crystals that resonate well with the Cold Moon’s spiritual energy and symbolism are citrine, garnet, labradorite, and tourmaline.

Scavenged items from nature make great altar decorations. You might spend some time outdoors collecting pinecones, holly or pine sprigs, dried seed pods, stones, etc. Another good altar addition would be food items such as dried fruits, cinnamon, nuts, wassail, currants, and candy canes.

Symbols of Yule make perfect contributions to your Cold Moon altar:

  • Evergreens symbolize life and renewal.
  • Holly symbolizes everlasting life. The leaves represent hope, the berries fertility.
  • Mistletoe represents vitality, romance, and fertility.
  • A Yule log purifies the home and protects it from evil spirits.
  • Candles symbolize the light and warmth of the sun.
  • Bells are rung to drive away demons and celebrate the shift back toward the light half of the year.
  • Wreaths represent friendship, goodwill, the Wheel of the Year, and the natural cycle of life and rebirth.

Cold Moon Ritual Ideas for a Solitary Witch


The Cold Moon reminds us to look beneath the surface. Beyond the death and decay, the cold and frozen crust, the deepening shadows… there is life within. Sit with the stillness. Introspection is a powerful tool.

This is especially important if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the holiday season. Let the Cold Moon serve as a reminder to stop, breathe, and set aside some time for self-care. A ritualistic bath is a good way to relax. (I highly recommend candles and bath sets from Hemlock Park, a certified carbon-neutral company that uses organic ingredients and plants a tree for every purchase.)

If the weather is decent, step outside into the moonlight. Let the cold, crisp air revitalize you. Hopefully, the sky is clear so you can take some time to admire the moon and stars.

Exploring your shadows can be an uncomfortable experience; let the light of the moon guide you through it. Be patient and compassionate with yourself if you’re examining your trauma, fear, anxiety, grief, or other unpleasant feelings. If you need extra support, reach out to a friend, family member, or therapist.

Do activities that you bring you joy, even if you don’t feel skilled enough or talented enough to turn those hobbies into a career or even a side hustle. Dance, sing, make music, write poetry, be creative. Not everything we do has to be for monetary profit. Make something simply for the love of the activity, regardless of the outcome.

I like to charge my crystal collection during my full moon rituals. You can also use the Cold Moon to make moon water.

Yule historically consists of a celebratory feast. Do you enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen? Try crafting a special Yuletide dish or winter drink such as wassail in honor of the solstice and the Cold Moon.

The Cold Moon is a wonderful time to seek wisdom and guidance from runes and tarot/oracle cards. You might also consider adding heirlooms and talismans to your altar decor. Take plenty of time to meditate on what the runes or cards are telling you.

In the end, remember that whether you practice your craft in solidarity or as part of a coven, do whatever rituals feel right for you. Listen to your mind, body, and soul. What are they telling you? Let the energy of the Cold Moon guide you through the lessons you need to learn.

A monthly subscription box is a fantastic way to celebrate the full moon! See my top witchy/spiritual box recommendations.

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Award-winning fantasy author, freelance writer, spiritual explorer, and sole founder of Green Witch Lunar Witch. She created her first website in 2016 and published her first novel two years later. Sara spends most of her time writing, creating, and daydreaming.

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