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The full moon occurs once every lunar cycle―about every month or so.  Many cultures had a name for the full moons of different times of the year; below are a few from some Native American Indian cultures.



The January full moon is known as the Wolf moon because, among the frigid cold and deep snow of mid-winter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside native Indian villages.  It was also known as the Old moon.



This full moon is known as the Snow moon, since snowfall is generally heaviest during this month.  Since hunting becomes difficult with heavy snow, some early tribes knew this moon as the Hunger moon. 



Indian tribes of what is now the northeastern United States knew this moon as the Worm moon because this is the time when the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins.  It is also the time when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, inspiring the more northern tribes to call it the Crow moon.  Others named it the Crust moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing by night, or the Sap moon which marked the time for tapping the maple trees.



This moon is often known as the Pink moon because, at this time of year, the grass pink or wild ground phlox is the most common flower around.  Coastal tribes knew it as the Fish moon, since the shad were now coming upstream to spawn.  Other names were the Sprouting Grass moon and the Egg moon.



The full moon of May was known to many as the Flower moon, since flowers were abundant everywhere.  Some tribes knew it as the Corn Planting moon, or the Milk moon.


The June full moon was known to every Algonquin tribe as the Strawberry moon, and the Europeans called it the Rose moon,  probably because it shines low in the northern hemisphere's sky and our atmosphere gives it a pinkish color.



Many native Indian tribes knew this full moon as the Buck moon.  This was a time when the new antlers of buck deer pushed out from their foreheads.  It was also a time of frequent thunderstorms,  and this full moon was also known as  the Thunder moon.



This full moon was often known as the Sturgeon moon, since this was a time when this large fish is readily caught.  A few tribes knew it as the Red moon, because it rises with a reddish appearance in the sultry haze low to the horizon.  Some called it the Green Corn moon.



The September full moon is the most famous of all:  the Harvest moon.  It is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, so named by farmers of old whose corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice were traditionally ready for gathering at this time of year.  Its significance, however, comes from the fact that, during September,  the moon's orbit is inclined very little to the horizon and, from our perspective, the full moon appears to rise in the southeastern sky only a bit later each evening, providing farmers a few hours of "extra" light after sundown to complete their harvest.



This moon was known to Native Indian tribes as the Hunter's moon.  With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, this was the time for hunting and stocking up for the cold winter months.



This month's full moon was known as the Beaver moon, since this was the time to set the beaver traps before the swamps froze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.



The December full moon was called by some native Indian tribes as the Cold moon, while others knew it as the Long Nights moon.  It was so named because the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are longest and darkest, at this time of year.


ADDITIONAL REFERENCE:   Hal Borland's Twelve Moons of the Year, ed. Barbara Dodge Borland, published by G. K. Hall & Co., Boston, MA, 1979;   ISBN 0-8398-2867-5






(c) Dennis L. Mammana.  All rights reserved.