Native American Indians gave the Full Moons characteristic names to kept track of the seasons. The names vary a bit between the different Tribes and locations. This list was compiled from the most commonly used names by all the North American Tribes and offers variations within it.
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January ~ The Wolf Moon
The howling of wolves can be heard echoing through the snow filled woods, hanging in the cold still air. Some tribes call this moon the Snow Moon, however most often it was used for the next month.
February ~ The Snow Moon
Usually by February, more snow has piled unto the land, thus giving this moon its name. Although tribes that use Snow Moon for the January moon, the February moon is called the Hunger Moon, due to difficult hunting conditions.
March ~ The Worm Moon
As the snow begins to melt, the ground softens and earthworms begin to move about, thus their castings or fecal matter can be found on the ground. Other signs of Spring also were giving to this months moon; the cawing of crows (the Crow Moon); the formation of crusts on the snow from recurrent thawing and freezing (the Crust Moon); and the time for tapping maple trees (the Sap Moon).
April ~ The Pink Moon
Flowers begin to appear, many of them pink including, phlox, pig squeak, lamium, pulmonaria and helleborus, to name a few. Other names for the April Moon are consistent with signs of full spring, such as Egg Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon and Fish Moon (from coastal tribes).
May ~ The Flower Moon
Many flowers are in full bloom and maize (corn) is ready to plant. Variations of this moon’s name are, the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.
June ~ The Strawberry Moon
Every berry lover knows it’s strawberry-picking season here in the Midwest! This is one of the few names that was universal to all Algonquin tribes. Many Algonquin Tribes originated in the Midwest.
July ~ The Buck Moon
Male deer start to grow their velvety, hair-covered antlers in the Northern areas during July. In the New England area, steady thunderstorms also resulted in the name Thunder Moon. Also the harvesting of hay resulted in Hay Moon.
August ~ The Sturgeon Moon
Sturgeon are a prized, large fish, common to Midwestern area lakes. During August, sturgeon begin to become more active due to it’s spawning time, thus making them easier to catch. Some tribes call it the Red Moon, due to it’s common reddening during the heat of this month. Other names include the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.
September ~ The Harvest Moon
The Harvest Moon, by far, is the most recognized moon of the seasons. Many staple foods, such as corn, apples, pumpkins, squash, beans, and rice, are ripe for the picking. The Harvest Moon does not always occur in September. Traditionally, the name goes to the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, which falls during October once or twice a decade. Sometimes the September full moon was called the Corn Moon.
October ~The Hunter’s Moon
After the fields have been harvested and the leaves begin to fall, hunters can spot game animals more easily. Sometimes, the Harvest Moon falls in October instead of September.
November ~ The Beaver Moon
Beavers are very active preparing for winter at this time; thus it’s easy to trap them and secure warm fur for the winter. Some tribes called this the Frosty Moon.
December ~ The Cold Moon
Winter has truly arrived with cold temperatures and bad weather. Many tribes also call it the Long Night Moon, because the moon spends more time above the horizon paired with a low sun.
The Blue Moon
Due to a steady, 29-day lunar cycle and the changing Georgian calendar containing months with 28, 29, 30 or 31 days, the exact dates of the full moon move every year. Most seasons have three full moons, however because the cycles don’t match, some seasons have four full moons. The term “Blue Moon” is used to identify these extra moons. These are pretty infrequent, thus the term, “Once in a Blue Moon” is coined for other rare occurrences.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl