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The Different Meanings of the Full Moons

Every month, the full moon has a different meaning and is given a new name typically derived from Native American tribes. Tracking lunar months and understanding what awaits us all has become very popular for spiritual people to do.

The Different Meanings of the Full Moons

The Different Meanings of the Full Moons

What are the different names of the Full Moons? You will find names like Strawberry moon, Worm moon, Wolf moon, and even Snow moon come up throughout the year.

Where Do Moon Names Come From?

Moon cycles, historically, were used to help track the passing of time. Early Native American tribes used the moon to help them keep a calendar and didn’t have the Julian or Gregorian calendars to work with within their communities. Instead, they leaned hard on moon cycles and nature.

Where Do Moon Names Come From

By observing nature cycles and identifying the signs of each passing season, it provided enough information for tribes to understand the year. When defining their year, Native Americans also named each lunar month.

As a reminder, each tribe named the full moons differently. You might find some variations online. The main ones listed below came from the Algonquin tribes. 

January – Wolf Moon

January’s full moon earned its name because of a large presence of wolves found during the month. It’s the time of year when the howling of hungry wolves is heard the loudest and most often. As mentioned, you might hear other names for the January moon such as Cold Moon, Freeze Moon, and Ice Moon.

February – Snow Moon

Although some tribes called January’s full moon Snow Moon, the name is most commonly used for February as it’s the month of coldest weather and heaviest snowfalls in North America. Alternative names were Storm Moon and Hunger Moon, which referred to poor hunting conditions during this month.

March – Worm Moon

In March, nature starts waking up from the winter slumber – including worms. The name for this month’s full moon is believed to come either because of earthworms or larvae appearing for the time.

A few alternative names were also linked to the reappearance of some animals, such as Crow Comes Back Moon, Goose Moon, Eagle Moon. But some names indicated spring weather – Wind Strong Moon and Crust Moon (because constant thawing and freezing of snow create crust). 

pink moon

April – Pink Moon

I’d love to say that they called April’s full moon Pink because of its color, but no. The name comes from the people’s association of the month with moss pink flowers. Native to eastern North America, the mountain phlox or creeping phlox is one of the first wildflowers that start blooming in April.

Other names for this full moon are less misleading (probably, because they are longer). Breaking Ice Moon, Moon of the Red Grass Appearing, Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs, and even Moon When the Steams are Again Navigable.

May – Flower Moon

If April witnesses some of the very first flowers, May is the month when everything starts to bloom. Since these full moon names typically indicate what is around, it’s no wonder May’s moon is called Flower Moon. 

Alternative names included Planting Moon, Egg Laying Moon, Moon of Shedding Ponies, Leaf Budding Moon, etc.

June – Strawberry Moon

June is the prime time for strawberry picking which makes complete sense why the moon would be called Strawberry Moon. But it’s not the only distinctive feature of the month, so people also call it Hot Moon, Hatching Moon, Rose Moon, Mead Moon, or Honey Moon.  

buck moon

July – Buck Moon

For Native Americans, July’s full moon was the time by when bucks, who shed their antlers in winter, had mostly grown them back, and that’s why they called it Buck Moon. Alternative names are Hay Moon, Thunder Moon, and Wort Moon. 

August – Sturgeon Moon

The full moon of August was named after America’s largest freshwater fish as it was the best time of the year to catch sturgeons. But some tribes also called it Moon When All Things Ripen, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon, and Red Moon. 

harvest moon

September – Corn Moon/Harvest Moon

September was named Harvest Moon for Native Americans because that’s when their crops were ready for harvesting. It was also the month closest to the autumnal equinox.

During this full moon, there’s always enough moonlight for farmers to continue harvesting late into the night. This moon was also referred to as Corn Moon.

October – Hunter Moon

During the years when September’s full moon was Harvest Moon, October’s moon name was Hunter Moon. As the name hints, this month was perfect for hunting because animals ate well in summer and gained weight in preparation for winter. 

October’s full moon also has other names that describe autumn perfectly, for example, Dying Grass Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Migrating Moon, and Freezing Moon. 

November – Beaver Moon

The name Beaver Moon has two possible explanations.

  • Explanation one: tribes named November’s full moon after beavers because that’s the time when they are the busiest.
  • Explanation two: It was the season when Native Americans set beaver traps to get their fur. 

Alternative names for this full moon are Frost Moon and Mourning Moon.

cold moon

December – Cold Moon

December is a cold month. Therefore, it makes complete sense that the December moon name would be Cold moon. Alternative names for this full moon are also pretty on spot: Long Night Moon, Moon before Yule, Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers and more.

What is the rarest type of moon?

Now it’s time I explained why sometimes there are 13 full moons in a year and what you call the additional one. Sometimes two full moons happen within the same calendar month. The first full moon is called by its usual name; the second one – Blue Moon. 

How can it happen? The lunar month has 29.5 days, while most calendar months have 30 days. The difference is about 11 days, and when this difference accumulates, it leads to the appearance of a Blue Moon. It’s pretty rare, though – Blue Moon happens every two to three years.

blue moon

What is the real color of the moon?

If all this talk about blue, pink, red moons got you wondering about the true color of the moon, the answer is gray. It has always been and always (most likely) will be gray.