Native Americans named the moons to track the passage of time. The Full Cold moon, or “tsothohrha” (time of cold), comes from the Mohawk tribe (the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois Confederacy, southeastern Canada and northern New York). This is the final moon of the year and the one in which we have finally moved into the coldest weather patterns. Other names for this moon include “rvfo-rakko”, big winter (the Creek Tribes of Georgia), “wahi mua”, evergreen moon (the Comanche Tribes of the Southern Plains), her winter houses moon (the Wishram, the Columbia River of Washington and Oregon), and my personal favorite, “ik’ohbu yachunne”, sun has traveled home to rest (the Zuni Tribes of New Mexico).
The “sun traveling home to rest moon” refers to solstice, which generally falls on December 20th or the 21st. The Mohican called this moon The Long Night Moon because of how it sits closest to winter solstice; with the nights at their longest, the days at their shortest, and the moon sitting high and long in the cold sky.
The Full Cold Moon hits it’s peak tonight, December 29th, at 7:28 pm (Pacific).
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 splendor on valley and hill, Cold is her gleam upon river and rill. Brightly the moon like a heel 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. -Charles Nevers Holmes-