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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Full Moon Names

In the times before artificial light, the full moon assumed a special place in the month. The presence of light at night allowed some important activities to continue past dark. In the spring, planting could go on after sunset, and in the autumn, farmers could harvest the crops essential for winter survival. Travel was safer under a full moon, and illicit activities declined when illuminated with moonlight.

To mark their importance, various cultures gave the full moons names to indicate the seasons in which they occur and the activities performed then.

In England, my Regency characters call the full moons by these names:
January-- Old Moon
February-- Wolf Moon
March-- Lenten Moon
April-- Egg Moon
May--Milk Moon
June--Flower Moon
July--Hay Moon
August--Grain Moon
September--Fruit Moon
October--Harvest Moon
November--Hunter's Moon
December--Oak Moon

In North America, the most widely used names are the ones the Native American Algonquin tribes, which lived from New England to Lake Superior, gave the full moons:
January--Wolf Moon
February--Snow Moon
March--Worm Moon
April--Pink Moon
May--Flower Moon
June--Strawberry Moon
July--Buck Moon
August--Sturgeon Moon
September--Corn Moon (might also be called the Harvest Moon)
October--Harvest Moon (might also be called the Hunter's Moon)
November--Beaver Moon
December--Cold Moon or Full Long Nights Moon

The full moon name that causes the most confusion is the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. If that full moon occurs in September, the September full moon is the Harvest Moon. If the October full moon falls closer to the equinox, the October full moon is the Harvest Moon.

A few days ago, we had the March full moon, the Worm Moon here in North America. My Regency characters would call it the Lenten Moon.

Various sources disagree on some of these names. But if you want to read more about full moons, here are some interesting links:

Names in Multiple Cultures:

North America:


Thank you all,


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Fascinating information, thank you.

Sherry James said...

Cool information. Thanks for sharing. I love the moon. It's so mysterious and romantic!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Very interesting. I'd heard of the Harvest Moon, but none of the others. Thanks for sharing.

catslady said...

I knew more of the Indian names (my daughter and her boyfriend are interested in many things Indian). The only one missing was the Blue Moon. I think that occurs when there is an extra moon which I guess doesn't happen too often. Thanks for a great post.

MarySimonsen said...

Thanks, Linda. I can use this in one of my novels.

Linda Banche said...

You're welcome, Rosemary.

Hi Sherry, I love the moon, too.

Caroline, glad I could help. I love the idea of the full moons having names.

catslady, the second moon within a calendar month is the Blue Moon, but that name came after these full moon names. And February, even in a leap year, will never have a Blue Moon because the moon's period is 29 1/2 days.

You're welcome, Mary. I love to see this kind of stuff in novels.

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda, I always enjoy watching the moon during all her phases.

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