The moon waxes and wanes. So do apocalyptic conspiracies about the moon. Last September, the United States bore witness to a blood moon – a conjunction of a lunar moon and a full moon – which prophecy enthusiasts insisted signaled the beginning of the end. Concerns about an impending doomsday subsided following the blood moon, but recently rekindled with the announcement that the last full moon of the year will fall on Christmas day.
The year 2015 has been a strange year from a lunar point of view. There was a blue moon, a myriad of lunar eclipses, a super moon and a string of blood moons. Now, a full-moon will reach its peak on Christmas day, which hasn’t occurred since 1977 and won’t occur again until 2034.(1)
The final moon of the year is known as the “Full Cold Moon” because it coincides with the beginning of winter. The winter solstice officially marks the changing of the seasons, which occurs a few days before Christmas, prior to midnight on Dec. 21st.
“As we look at the moon on such an occasion, it’s worth remembering that the moon is more than just a celestial neighbor,” John Keller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. “The geologic history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.”(1)
The moon upsets an apocalyptic mood
The Full Moon occurring on Christmas is an appropriate way to end a big year for the moon. The super blood moon that occurred in September was the last in a series of four super lunar eclipses in the last two years. While blood moons occur occasionally, four blood moons occurring so close together is extremely rare, happening only once every 500 years.(2)
It should come as no surprise that prophecy enthusiasts interpreted these lunar episodes as having cosmic significance rather than being the stroke of astronomical chance. The Bible does, after all, purport that God uses the sun, moon and stars as a means to communicate with people. The wise-men, for instance, were guided to Jesus in a manger by following a star; and Joshua is believed to have led Israel to victory in battle after the sun stood still.
Some fundamentalist Christians interpreted the blood moon as a signal that the end had begun, based on a verse in the book of Revelation, which states. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.”(2)
One verse, multiple interpretations
According to an interpretation of the verse provided by Pastor Mark Biltz, the fourth blood moon signaled a number of earthquakes, meteor showers and other natural disasters that would plague the Earth.(2)
Others offered a more modest interpretation, like Pastor John Hagee, author of the book Four Blood Moons, who argued that the most recent blood moon would not bring about Armageddon, but would assure various trials and tribulations on Israel.(2)
Although the blood moon came and went with little apocalyptic drama, this has not perturbed all blood moon doomsayers. “Little babies, that blood moon belongs to God,” televangelist Jim Bakker said in response to a question about why nothing happened after the blood moon dates.(3)
“People, it’s all happening, but we’re not looking. We become movie Christians. If it doesn’t happen in 90 minutes, we’re on to something else,” he added.(3)
The United Nations raising the Palestine flag in New York, Russia launching airstrikes on Turkey, President Vladimir Putin’s quest to destroy the dollar and, of course, the Christmas full-moon, all signal the end in the wake of the blood moon, in Bakker’s mind.(3)
According to NASA, the full-moon will reach its peak at 6:11 a.m. EST on Dec. 25. Rather than stand in fear of the full moon, perhaps doomsday enthusiasts should celebrate it. After all, it will fall on the day of Christmas; not the day of Armageddon.