Many different cultures had specific names for the Full Moon, depending on the time of the year. The interval between successive Full Moons is known as the synodic month and it is, on average, 29.53 days – so the names have come to be associated with modern calendar months.
These names have been passed down through the centuries, having been used by the various tribes in North America and dating back, in some cases, to the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar. Read on to discover the names of each of these moons, their meanings, and their origins.
January: Wolf Moon
Because the howling of wolves is often heard in North America in winter, the Full Moon in January is often known as the ‘Wolf Moon’. The name may originally stem from the Old-World, Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar. Other names for this Full Moon include: Moon After Yule, Old Moon, Ice Moon, and Snow Moon. A favourite of ours is ‘squochee kesos’, the name the Algonquin tribes had for this moon, which means ‘the Sun has not strength to thaw’.
February: Snow Moon
In the northern hemisphere, February is often the coldest month, and most countries on both sides of the Atlantic see significant falls of snow. The Full Moon of February is thus often called the Snow Moon, although just occasionally that name has been applied to the Full Moon in January.
March: Worm Moon
One name for the last Full Moon of the winter season, which falls in March, is the Worm Moon. The name derives from the fact that earthworms become active in the soil at the end of winter and are sometimes seen at the surface. Other names include Crow Moon, because the birds become particularly active and are avid to feed on the worms, after the lack of food during the winter months.
April: Pink Moon
The Full Moon in April is known in North America as the Pink Moon, from the pink flowers – phlox – that bloom in the early spring. Other names for this Full Moon used by Native American tribes include Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, and Hare Moon. On the other side of the Atlantic there is the Old English/Anglo-Saxon name of Egg Moon.
May: Flower Moon
The Full Moon in May describes the flower bloom that occurs in full force during this month. Other names for the May Full Moon are Milk Moon and Corn Planting Moon.
June: Strawberry Moon
June has always been noted for strawberries, and this appears in the name of the Full Moon this month. This name was used on both sides of the Atlantic. The Choctaw tribe of southeastern America had different names for Full Moons that occurred in early or late June. In early June it was ‘Moon of the peach’ and in late June it was ‘Moon of the crane’.
July: Buck Moon
One of the names used in North America for the Full Moon for the month of July is Buck Moon. This term derives from the fact that this is when new antlers grow on the heads of male deer.
August: Sturgeon Moon
The Algonquin tribes of North America called the Full Moon of August the Sturgeon Moon because of the numerous examples that they captured in the lakes where they fished. In the ancient Old English/Anglo-Saxon calendar it was sometimes known as Barley Moon, Fruit Moon or Grain Moon – referring to the fact that crops are ripening.
September: Corn Moon
To the peoples of North America, September was particularly important because corn was ready for harvest, so many tribes had names for the Full Moon that referred to corn. In Europe, the September Full Moon was generally called the Harvest Moon, and technically this was the first Full Moon after the autumnal equinox.
October: Hunter’s Moon
In the northern hemisphere of the Old World, October was the month in which people prepared for the coming winter by hunting wild animals, slaughtering livestock, and preserving meat for food. This caused the Full Moon in October to become known as the Hunter’s Moon.
November: Beaver Moon
In North America, the Full Moon of November has come to be called Beaver Moon, because beavers become particularly active at this time, preparing their lodges and food supplies for winter.
December: Cold Moon
In the northern hemisphere, the cold of winter begins to dominate life during December. Many of the names for the Full Moon in December on both sides of the Atlantic refer to the temperature, with terms such as Cold Moon, Winter Maker Moon and Snow Moon used in North America.
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