Full Moon Names And Meanings
By Shirley Kelly, Colorado
Full moon names date back to Native Americans, of what now is Northern and Eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full moon dates shift from year to year. Have you had the time to look outside when the moon is full? Fall and winter moons appear to be radiant, and most of the time the skies around are luminary with stars and planets.
FULL WOLF MOON
Amid the cold, deep snows of midwinter, the wolf pack howls hungrily outside the Indian villages. Thus the name of January’s full moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or Moon After the Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next moon.
FULL SNOW MOON
Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full moon the Full Snow moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their area made hunting very difficult.
FULL WORM MOON
As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of robins. The more northern tribes knew this moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marketing time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon of winter.
FULL PINK MOON
This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and amongst the coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swarm upstream to spawn.
FULL FLOWER MOON
In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this moon. Other names include the Full Corn Moon, planting moon, or the Milk Moon.
FULL STRAWBERRY MOON
This name was universal to every Alongquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it Rose Moon. Also because of the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries each year during the month of June…so the full moon that occurs during that month was christened strawberry!
THE FULL BUCK MOON
July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent this time.
THE STURGEON MOON
The Sturgeon, a large fish common to the Great Lakes and other bodies of water are mostly easily caught during this month caused by a frequently sultry moon. August also prompted a few tribes to call it “The Red Moon, Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.”
THE HARVEST MOON
Many of the Native American tribe’s staple foods, such as corn, pumpkins, squash and beans are ready for gathering at this time. The strong light of the Harvest Moon allowed the American Indians and pioneer farmers to work late into the night to harvest their crops. The Harvest Moon does not always occur in September. Traditionally the name goes to the fullest moon closest to the Autumn equinox, which falls during October once or twice a decade. Sometimes September was also called the Corn Moon.
THE HUNTERS MOON
After fields have been reaped, and most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, the deer are fat and ready for eating. Hunters can walk or ride over the fields of stubble and the game is plentiful. Some years the Harvest Moon falls in October instead of September.
FULL BEAVER MOON
This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
THE FULL COLD MOON OR THE FULL LONG NIGHT MOON
During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.