What time moon is it?    Well, it’s a Full Moon tonight.   Did you know each full moon has a name?    People before us who lived closer to nature often gave the full moon of each month a name appropriate to the season’s activities.

moon tonight

There are several traditions of naming,  but the most common and the one I like the most are the names that were used by the North American Indians, for a long, long time, before the Europeans  wrote about them in the 16th century.     I also have a great respect for and devotion to St. Isaac Jogues, who was martyred by some in the Huron Nation in the 17th century, and so these Indian names keep their memory and St. Isaac Jogues faith alive in my mind.  ( Hmmmm.  I thought I wrote more about him.   I plan a summer trip to the site of his martyrdom this year. . . .)

It’s extremely cold outside my house tonight,  and we’re having intermittent clouds;  Lake Effect snow from a Lake that is over a hundred miles away.    Most often I look out my window and see only this:


Not much through a lens but it’s . . . nice.  Nice to see a full moon.    Tonight’s extreme cold reminds me why January’s full moon is called the Wolf Moon — everyone was hungry by now, so far from harvest, so deep into winter, so cold that game was scarce and even the wolves were hungry.    The howling packs of hungry wolves name this month’s full moon.

Here are all the traditional names, for the use of your imagination:

January:  Wolf Moon,  for the common sound of howling, hungry wolves

February:  Full Snow Moon, named for the often heavy snowfalls experienced in the northern United States.

March:   Full Crow Moon,  because as the winter weather moderated a little bit,  crows were heard

April:  Full Pink Moon,  because in April the  herb moss pink ( wild ground phlox)  began to be seen as the snow melted

May:  Full Flower Moon  for the abundant Spring flowers.  What a happy sight that must have been!

June:  Full Rose Moon,  named after the color of the strawberries that grew during their short but important season

July:  Full Buck Moon   This is the month that antlers grew out from the heads of the bucks, soft and velvety,  itchy and irritating!

August:   Full Sturgeon Moon     The sturgeon became easier to catch during August in all the Great Lakes

September:   Full Harvest Moon,  because this is when the corn can be harvested, and the moon late at night extended the light for longer harvesting times.

October:    Full Hunter Moon  (also a European name) because now is the time to store up food for the coming winter

November:   Full Beaver Moon.  Time to set your beaver traps!   The beaver get busier now too to prepare for winter

December:   Full Long Nights Moon.      This is the Cold Moon or the Long Nights moon,  both describing the moon’s trajectory during undeniably winter nights

Usually there is one full moon for each month, but sometimes February doesn’t have time to have a full moon, and sometimes the dates fall just right so that there are two full moons in one month.  The second moon in the month is called the Blue Moon.    And because the Harvest Moon is tied to the autumnal equinox,  sometimes it has to occur in the month of October.

God grant that knowing the names of the full moons is just an interesting option for us and never becomes a helpful necessity.



Explore posts in the same categories: American History, Nature, saint, Seasons changing

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One Comment on “WHAT … MOON IS IT?”

  1. I was contemplating taking a picture of our full moon…it’s extra pretty on our snow ! It did not get above zero yesterday …maybe not today, either! Pretty, tho….

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