The Many Names of the Moon: A Guide to Moon Names & Origins
Did you know that your favorite moons have aliases? Full moons have mystified people of different cultures for thousands of years. So naturally, these lunar phases have collected a few nicknames over the centuries. The name of a full moon is often tied to the land. It’s a reminder of what the season will bring until the next cycle. We’ll talk about each moon’s many names and how they got them!
This full moon occurs in January, when our spirits are howling for change. Of course, the origin of the name, bestowed by both Native Americans and medieval Europeans, has to do with wolves. This is the time of year when they could be heard howling the loudest while hunting, claiming territory, or signalling pack members. But the Wolf Moon goes by other names as well. It’s also commonly called the Cold Moon, Freeze Moon, Frost Exploding Moon, Hard Moon… You can probably guess where these names come from as the chill of winter begins to set in.
Time to cuddle up! It’s no surprise how this moon came to be called the Snow Moon by Native Americans. Though, it was known by other names among different tribes. The Algonquin called it the Groundhog Moon for much the same reason we look for those fuzzy ground dwellers on Groundhog’s Day. The Cherokee called it the Hungry Moon because the snow made food hard to come by.
Worms get a bad wrap. These helpful creatures aerate the soil to promote the growth that spring brings in late March. That’s why we celebrate these hard workers with what Native Americans called the Worm Moon. Some tribes also called it the Crust Moon because of the crunchy snow left on the ground. Early settlers also called this the Sap Moon because of the sweet sap maple trees produce this time of year, which they’d use to turn into maple syrup.
You can’t help but to have rose colored glasses during the Pink Moon. This time of year brings waves of pink flowers on hillsides, earning it its cheery nickname. Other Native American names for this moon include Broken Snowshoe Moon and Breaking Ice Moon after the warming temperatures of spring.
Get out and smell the roses, it’s the Flower Moon. Unsurprisingly this name comes from all the sweet smelling flora that May brings. Other Native American names for this moon follow that same theme, including the Planting Moon and Budding Moon.
Make way for a berry fortuitous moon! The Algonquin called this the Strawberry Moon because it represented the time when they could harvest ripening wild strawberries. It’s also called Birth Moon and Hatching Moon after the boom of babies that come in late spring.
Oh deer, is it that time already? Yep, the Buck Moon is a symbol growth right down to the origin of its name. This time of year is when bucks begin to regrow their antlers. The Native Americans also called this the Raspberry Moon and Salmon Moon for the abundance it brought in.
Once upon a time, the Great Lakes had an equally great sturgeon population. The massive fish were particularly plentiful during this moon, supplying local Native American tribes with a delicious diet. This moon has also gone by the Mountain Shadows Moon. This describes the shadows which come with the shortening of days as fall approaches.
Let’s welcome a cornucopia of opportunities. The Harvest Moon has long symbolized the time when a bounty could be expected. Native Americans also called this the Corn Moon as corn would be ripe for picking in fall.
Time to take life by the horns. This moon was a call to Native American hunters to bring in enough food to last through the cold months. It was also called the Falling Leaves Moon due to the trees shedding their foliage as winter approached.
This moon is all about being proactive, so it’s perfect for eager beavers. Native Americans gave this moon its name because it was a time when beaver skins were collected to provide warmth in the coming winter season. It was called Frost Moon as fall’s nip in the air turned to more of a bite.
Brrr… With the Cold Moon comes the cold weather. This name, bestowed by Native American tribes, is fairly predictable. In fact, many of the names given by other tribes followed a similar theme, including Long Night Moon and Winter Maker Moon.