Full Moon Names

Native American Names for Full Moons



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Native Americans’ Full Moon names were created to help different tribes track the seasons. Think of it as a “nickname” for the Moon!  See our list of other full Moon names for each month of the year and their meanings.

The full Moon for December is called the Full Cold Moon because the temperatures dive and winter soon fastens its grip.

In 2016, the Full Cold Moon rises on Tuesday, December 13, and it will be the brightest Moon of the year, and also the highest up Moon at Midnight.  

Not only does December 13 bring the Full Moon, but also it’s the peak of the Geminid Meteor Showers, traditionally the best “shooting stars” of the entire year. The Geminids will be overwhelmed by the Moon, but you should still be able to catch some meteors if you look in part of the night sky that’s furthest from the Moon.

The name, “Full Cold Moon” was used by Native American tribes as well as the early colonists. Read more about the full Moon Names below.

Why Native Americans Named the Moons

The early Native Americans did not record time by using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Many tribes kept track of time by observing the seasons and lunar months, although there was much variability. For some tribes, the year contained 4 seasons and started at a certain season, such as spring or fall. Others counted 5 seasons to a year. Some tribes defined a year as 12 Moons, while others assigned it 13. Certain tribes that used the lunar calendar added an extra Moon every few years, to keep it in sync with the seasons.

Each tribe that did name the full Moons (and/or lunar months) had its own naming preferences. Some would use 12 names for the year while others might use 5, 6, or 7; also, certain names might change the next year. A full Moon name used by one tribe might differ from one used by another tribe for the same time period, or be the same name but represent a different time period. The name itself was often a description relating to a particular activity/event that usually occurred during that time in their location.

Colonial Americans adopted some of the Native American full Moon names and applied them to their own calendar system (primarily Julian, and later, Gregorian). Since the Gregorian calendar is the system that many in North America use today, that is how we have presented the list of Moon names, as a frame of reference. The Native American names have been listed by the month in the Gregorian calendar to which they are most closely associated.

Native American Full Moon Names and Their Meanings

The Full Moon Names we use in the Almanac come from the Algonquin tribes who lived in regions from New England to Lake Superior. They are the names the Colonial Americans adapted most. Note that each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred.

Link on the names below for your monthly Full Moon Guide!

Month Name Description
January Full Wolf Moon This full Moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages. It is also known as the Old Moon. To some Native American tribes, this was the Snow Moon, but most applied that name to the next full Moon, in February.
February Full Snow Moon Usually the heaviest snows fall in February. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some Native American tribes this was the Hunger Moon.
March Full Worm Moon At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.
April Full Pink Moon This full Moon heralded the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers. It is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
May Full Flower Moon Flowers spring forth in abundance this month. Some Algonquin tribes knew this full Moon as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
June Full Strawberry Moon The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries. It is also known as the Rose Moon and the Hot Moon.
July Full Buck Moon Bucks begin to grow new antlers at this time. This full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon, because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month.
August Full Sturgeon Moon Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. Others called it the Green Corn Moon.
September Full Corn Moon This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn. It is also called the Barley Moon, because it is the time to harvest and thresh the ripened barley. The Harvest Moon is the full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox, which can occur in September or October and is bright enough to allow finishing all the harvest chores.
October Full Hunter’s Moon This is the month when the leaves are falling and the game is fattened. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long winter ahead. October’s Moon is also known as the Travel Moon and the Dying Moon.
November Full Beaver Moon For both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. This full Moon was also called the Frost Moon.
December Full Cold Moon This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. This full Moon is also called the Long Nights Moon by some Native American tribes.

Note: The Harvest Moon is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. It can occur in either September or October. At this time, crops such as corn, pumpkins, squash, and wild rice are ready for gathering.

Reader Comments

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Full Moon

Wonderful article about the Full Moon and how they named the different Moons!!

what determines a killing frost?

My grandmother used to say that a frost did not necessarily mean garden plants would be damaged. She said it depended on the moon phase and she would go out and break a small limb off of a tree and announce whether the frost had been a "killing frost". That is just one of the many, many things I wish I had asked before she passed on many years ago.


You might be interested in the following page, which explains different levels of frost:

Also, here is another that talks about how to predict frost:

As to the Moon and frost, there are a few proverbs related to this, such as “Clear Moon, frost soon.” This particular saying refers to the fact that when the night sky is clear, Earth’s surface cools rapidly—there is no cloud cover to keep the heat in. If the night is clear enough to see the Moon and the temperature drops enough, frost will form. Expect a chilly morning!

Full Moon

I just read the Full Moon names' I found it very interesting. I plane on returning to your web sight and reading more. Thanks for sharing this information.

I would like to know with

I would like to know with certainty this information came from Native Americans and not from a non-Native American who is interpreting through his/her own eyes. Absent that information, this is a very interesting article. Coming from an agricultural state, I have heard about the Farmer's Almanac all my life.

Hello, Mary, These are among

Hello, Mary, These are among the resources that we use or consider to identify the names that Native Americans gave the full Moon:

• http://www.wwu.edu/skywise/indianmoons.html

• http://www.native-languages.org/legends-moon.htm

There are many more names for the Moon than the relatively familiar ones that many folks know, because tribes throughout North America named the Moon based on events in nature that they observed locally. Here is one: http://faculty.smu.edu/twalker/calendar.htm

Thanks for your interest in this Almanac.

To the moon Alice!

To the moon Alice!

Moon Names

I'm looking forward forward to the Moon tonight, the Hunters' Moon as I've learned here. Last night in Southern Utah it was alarmingly bright and I'm told tonight it will be at it's fullest. Enjoy!



Miss u


Couldn't sleep tonight..I've

Couldn't sleep tonight..I've been up a few times already and noticed the bright moon tonight..checked the current phase of the moon..this site said the full moon happens in about 2 1/2 hrs..the sight of the full moon always seems to be a comfort..no matter the season....just thought I'd share ..in the event your up looking at the moon tonight:)

I was up as well

I went outside and sat on a lounge chair to actually see just how bright the moon was. I had been living in city for a while and rarely got to see the Harvest Moon. Had just moved and finally got to see it and more to come! My grandpa, born in 1893 planted his garden by the moon phases, the Farmers Almanac was always at his side.

Randomly acquired info

Couple of weeks ago--mid-July, a weatherman or someone on TV called it a Bark Moon. It's when the bark is harvested from the cork trees so they have time to regrow it before the next (winter?) stressful season. It also stands to reason the bark has time to be cut and cured to use for the new season's wine. Agrarian, but not Native American....



Full Moon Names

Interesting that people throughout the centuries have paid attention and followed the moon phases. Today people much ignore it. The Strawberry Moon, coincided with the Summer Solstice, has given me, incredible energy. My friends and family have also felt it. Lack of sleep, yet arising feeling good. Thank you Sun and Moon for always being there for us everyday. I am grateful.

The Harvest Moon happens

The Harvest Moon happens around some time in September partly around the Autumn Equinox. Corn, rice, and crops grow around this time of year, too!

love this article

What a very cool article, I loved learning all this knowledge how the bird songs are enlightened by sunlight. Certain planting moons and fishing times and all this wonderful stuff. Very well written informative article!

I agree holly!!!

I agree holly!!!

I enjoy the Almanac page -

I enjoy the Almanac page - some very interesting information. I am pleased to learn more of the Native American Indian full moon names and meanings. It doesn't mean we have to agree or even understand, but I do appreciate their explanations. It's informative and opens my mind to thoughts not known previously. I know so little about our various tribes, but I love our Country and all those who gone before - the knowledge we can glean just from listening - be it factual or folklore - I am fascinated and enjoy what I learn. Thank you for this page and the information posted here. Happy New Year and I will look forward to clear skies to see our Full Wolf Moon on the 23rd!!! ;o)

the moon

the moon is a dead planet that was pushed here and is used to keep humans from ascending by beaming electromagnetic frequency that keep our vibration low. stop romanticizing this thing.


"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."
—Maurice Switzer

The moon was not placed here by anyone. If you'd taken a remedial high school science class you'd know about NASA's take on how the moon got into our orbit:

The Giant Impactor Theory (sometimes called The Ejected Ring Theory): This theory proposes that a planetesimal (or small planet) the size of Mars struck the Earth just after the formation of the solar system, ejecting large volumes of heated material from the outer layers of both objects. A disk of orbiting material was formed, and this matter eventually stuck together to form the Moon in orbit around the Earth. This theory can explain why the Moon is made mostly of rock and how the rock was excessively heated. Furthermore, we see evidence in many places in the solar system that such collisions were common late in the formative stages of the solar system. This theory is discussed further below.

You need to study some more

You need to study some more before making blanket statements.

i always start to sing when i

i always start to sing when i see any phase of moon. the moon makes me say Beautiful Moon!

Thank you!!

Thank you!!

Full Moon

I did learn many things on the moon. Thank you so much and I love to read all your letters. Josette

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