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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Full Moon Cold Moon

Updated: Dec 19, 2021




December's Cold Moon, the longest full moon of the year, is rising tonight, making it the last full moon before the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to see it, simply because it is so cloudy today.



But I saw it yesterday on a return trip from Thurso, while mist settled into the hollows of fields. The air has been damp, cold and still of late. The moon made its presence known, rising gradually in the clearing sky as the evening wore on, setting the whole expanse aglow.





Seeing the moon like that made me think of a Christmas hymn we learned in school in Canada called the Huron Carol. ...


'Twas in the moon of wintertime When all the birds had fled That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead Before their light the stars grew dim And wond'ring hunters heard the hymn:


Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born! In excelsis gloria!

...


(see full song below)


...


Apparently, to catch the Cold Moon at its fullest tonight, we are to look up at 04:32 GMT. If we miss that moment, we'll still get a chance to see the lunar show as it will appear full for two more days, through to Monday morning (Dec. 20), making this "a full moon weekend”

(according to NASA).


And only a day later the winter solstice will occur at precisely 15:59 GMT on Tuesday (Dec. 21), when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt away from the sun. At this time, we can officially wave goodbye to autumn and say hello to winter, which will last until the spring equinox on March 20, 2022.


The full moon always seems to add a sense of wonder to the nights, especially on these longer colder dark hours of the solstice.


Artists have depicted the full moon throughout history and up to the present day. Here are just a few by artists in different parts of the world.



Nocturne in Blue and Gold, James McNeill Whistler



Moonlight and Lamplight, Winifred Nicholson



Vinternatt, Sohlberg



Moonlight Over Canoe Lake, by Tom Thomson



Cathedral Iceberg Under Violet Moon, Lawren Harris



Museum of the Moon, Inflatable Installation Artwork, Luke Jerram



From our different locations on the globe, it is nice to think we can look up and see the same moon in the sky.


Winter Moon


Brightly the moon like a jewel is beaming

White in the east, o'er a lone landscape gleaming

Over the meadows and over the snow

Glimmering, shimmering, silvery glow

Low in the east, when the gloaming is ending

Slowly this white winter moon is ascending

Looming so large and appearing so nigh

Satellite framed by a star-spangled sky.

High in the sky, with soft radiance teeming

Nigh to the time when men, women, are dreaming,

Weird is her splendour on valley and hill

Cold is her gleam upon river and rill

Brightly the moon like a jewel is shining

White in the west she is slowly declining;

Beautiful Moon ! Which beams gorgeous and grand

Over the homes of our own native land.

- by Charles Nevers Holmes


----


The Huron Carol


'Twas in the moon of wintertime When all the birds had fled That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead Before their light the stars grew dim And wond'ring hunters heard the hymn:


Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born! In excelsis gloria!


Within a lodge of broken bark, The tender Babe was found A ragged robe of rabbit skin Enwrapped His beauty round And as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high:


Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born! In excelsis gloria!


O children of the forest free, O songs of Manitou The Holy Child of earth and heav'n Is born today for you Come kneel before the radiant Boy Who brings you beauty, peace and joy:


Jesus, your King, is born; Jesus is born! In excelsis gloria!


"Twas in the Moon of Wintertime," generally considered the first Canadian carol, was originally written in the Huron Indian language in 1640 and set to an old French tune by a Jesuit priest, Jean de Brébeuf. In retelling the story of the Nativity, Father Brebeuf used symbols and figures that could be understood by the Hurons, and the hymn entered the tribes oral tradition.


I like this version sung by Canadian singer/songwriter, Bruce Cockburn

as well the adapted version (as written above), by Canadian, Sarah McClachan .


***


At the Solstice


We say Next time we’ll go away, But then the winter happens, like a secret

We’ve to keep yet never understand As daylight turns to cinema once more:

A lustrous darkness deep in ice-age cold, And the print in need of restoration

Starting to consume itself With snowfall where no snow is falling now.

Or could it be a cloud of sparrows, dancing In the bare hedge that this gale of light

Is seeking to uproot? Let it be sparrows, then, Still dancing in the blazing hedge,

Their tender fury and their fall, Because it snows, because it burns.


- by Shaun O'Brien







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