Christmas full moon to rise for first time this century
Don't forget to look up in the sky early Friday morning. No, not for Santa, who'll be long gone — for the full moon, which peaks at 6:11 a.m. ET, according to NASA. The last time there was a full moon Christmas Day was 1977, and it won't happen again until 2034. December's full moon is called the "cold moon" because, appropriately enough, "it is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark," according to the Farmer's Almanac.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Go west, my friend
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Your odds are good in Fairbanks, Alaska, which has seen snow on the ground every Christmas since weather record keeping began. Because of the warming effects of the strong El Niño climate pattern, many places that often have a good chance of seeing snow Christmas Day will miss out this year. Some cities in the central and eastern USA could see record high temperatures on Christmas Day. Despite Bing Crosby's White Christmas wishes (and ours), only 25% to 30% of the 48 contiguous states is typically snow-covered by Christmas, according to AccuWeather. Check the average chances for your city here.
America's new Christmas pastime: Shopping
Blame the Internet. Christmas Day is typically the slowest retail sales day of the holiday season, but its popularity is growing. Why? Because of Web shoppers, especially those on their phones. If you're among those doing some shopping Friday, you won't be alone. This year, Christmas is expected to ring in $600 million in online sales, up from $550 million last year, according to Adobe Marketing Cloud.
NBA games will be a Christmas Day treat
Christmas morning is for opening presents. For sports fans, Christmas afternoon and evening are all about the NBA. There will be five consecutive games. First up, at noon ET: The Miami Heat host the New Orleans Pelicans. The day will end with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers, which tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET. Friday's showcase game is a matchup of last year’s NBA Finals participants, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the two biggest stars in the game, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. The showdown at 5 p.m. ET is a must-watch.
Your ultimate movie guide to Christmas on the big screen
If you're not into the festivities, you'll find there’s something for everyone at the box office this holiday. See what the awards shows are all about this season, and check out the Wall Street exposé The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis' best seller. Looking for something kid-friendly that you’ll like, too? Peanuts is the movie for you. If you need to get away from it all, for as long as possible, duck into Quentin Tarantino’s roadshow, The Hateful Eight. And if you want to just stare in amazement at the screen, Leonardo DiCaprio's true grit in The Revenant is definitely the feature to see. Here's everything you need to know about what's playing.
Bonus item: Already ready for Christmas dinner? Here's what the feast looks like on tables around the world.
And the essentials:
Weather: While the East sees near-record warmth for Christmas, portions of the South will slog through heavy rain and the West will see snow and cold.