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Two major cold waves usually dominate at this time of year
Dec. 24-30
If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;
If north, much cold and storms there’ll be;
If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
If north-east, flee it man and brute.
-English Folk Rhyme

Lunar phase and lore
The Crow Gathering Moon waxes through the week, becoming completely full on Dec. 28 at 5:21 a.m. Rising in the afternoon and setting in the morning, this moon moves overhead in the middle of the night.

The most favorable time for fishing and finding game will be when the moon travels beneath this part of Earth, close to noon, and those conditions will be especially propitious at the approach of the Christmas cold front and the New Year’s cold front.

Seeding of bedding plants should be most successful if done under Taurus on Dec. 22-25 or in Cancer on Dec. 27-30.

Weather trends
This time of the year is ordinarily dominated by two major cold waves. The first comes in on Dec. 21 or 22, and the second arrives between Dec. 23-26. Christmas Day is typically the brightest day of the week, bringing a 70 percent chance for sun.

Dec. 28 is the darkest day of the month’s fourth week, with a 70 percent chance for clouds. Snow falls half the time in my weather history on Christmas Eve, and on the two days before New Year’s Day. Dec. 26 is typically the coldest day of the week and has a 40 percent chance for highs just in the teens or 20s.

Tall coneflower stalks have collapsed, the white boneset has toppled over and the small white asters, their seed heads empty, lean in the wind. In rivers and ponds, the swamp rushes lie with the lizard’s tail flat across the water.

Hydrangea heads are drooping and the Jerusalem artichokes have fallen over. Grasses are pale and bent. Hoary goldenrod and brittle great ragweed have broken.

The snow and the overwintering robins pull off the honeysuckle berries. Winterberry branches are drooping to let down their fruit. Bittersweet hulls continue to split away from their branches.

Dec. 24: As the weather gets colder, wild game moves to areas where cover is thickest. For deer, mating season is usually over. Whitetail bucks have their gray winter coats now, and they are starting to drop their antlers.

On the farm, expectant ewes, does and cows nurture their babies to be born a few weeks from now.

Dec. 25: Music lessons begun at this time are often more successful than those started at other times of the year, as is foreign language study. A brief trip south this month will help keep away seasonal affective disorders without disrupting the winter stability that keeps you on track with your various personal projects.
One word of seasonal caution: Your immune system will remain relatively low until spring, so take your vitamins and get plenty of sleep.

Dec. 26: For some people, winter brings on more angina, increased pain from PMS and more severe diabetic reactions than at any other time of year. Diet could be related to some of these problems; the more sugar and alcohol you pour into your system for the holidays, the harder your body has to work to keep its balance.

And, although your livestock may not drink rum or eat Christmas cookies, they may experience more physical problems as the weather becomes colder.

Dec. 27: In the warmth of greenhouses, bedding plant seeding is fully under way, and young plants scheduled to be sold in May often have 4-6 leaves by now.

Dec. 28: Today is full moon day. If you are thinking about quitting smoking or drinking for the new year, waning moon time after the holidays is an excellent time to do it. But get your cold turkey done with by March 1 – that’s when changeable weather really challenges your hibernation patterns.

Dec. 29: Cold weather reduces the impact of barn odors on our noses, but don’t lighten up on your maintenance schedule; keep pens clean and bedding fresh, especially as lambing, kidding and calving time approaches.

Dec. 30: As the holiday season winds down, most people experience a new surge of energy – at least enough to order seeds and to make a few New Year’s resolutions.

Despite the cold and cloudy skies, the weather is relatively similar from day to day. This allows the mind and body to settle into safe behavior holding patterns that often last until the first madness of early spring.

Listen to Poor Will’s Radio Almanack on podcast anytime at and follow Poor Will on Twitter: @poor wilsalmanac