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Full Moon Names

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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.

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.

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Comments

Was a Full Buck Moon a New

By PJ Lenny

Was a Full Buck Moon a New Buck Moon 2 weeks earlier and does it become a waning Buck moon etc? Or does its name only refer to the short period when it is Full?

Many Native American tribes

By Almanac Staff

Many Native American tribes used the lunar cycles and seasons to keep track of time. They would identify a lunar month (which lasted about 29 days) by giving a name to the new lunar cycle (often starting with the full Moon) and applying that name for the entire lunar month. In some Native American cultures, 12 or 13 moons would be included in a year, which often started in spring, with an extra moon added every few years to keep it in sync with the seasons. Others would begin their year in fall. Some tribes would assign 5 to 7 moons to a year, or change the names from year to year.

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.

So, it is our understanding that the Buck Moon would likely apply to a period of time around July in the Gregorian calendar. We couldn't verify that Colonial Americans named the other phases (such as new) according to the full Moon name. (Anyone else know?) But the Native American names often applied to the entire lunar month.

Dear Elder, I understand your

By panacea

Dear Elder, I understand your view of living in concert with Earth's energy, but please remember that other people around the world feel this energy differently due to their geographic locations and create their calendars accordingly. Native Americans (I am descended from Cherokee farmers in the Carolinas) based their calendars upon the particular energy and cycles felt in North America, whereas the ancient Celtic peoples, or ancient African people, or ancient peoples of the steppes of Asia felt different rhythms in their daily lives. I am certain that as the first people crossed over onto the American continent from Asia, they had to adjust their traditional perceptions of the Earth's rhythms accordingly. There is a great deal that all of us do not know about each others experiences and perceptions in this world. It is wise to keep our hearts and minds open to each other.

'Four Blood Moons' by John

By CJRL

'Four Blood Moons' by John Hager.
What does that mean in terms of astronomy not religion?
Thank you.

Seeing a beautiful full moon

By D. Ferguson

Seeing a beautiful full moon during this very cold and snowy weather is a delight.
I have long named the various moons of the seasons. I, too, believe they match up to the weather more than by specific dates.
Looking today and writing in my journal I opened up and read in Hal Borlands' book once again his very interesting comments about the moon.
"Twelve Moons of The Year" for those who might be interested.

Someone mentioned that there

By Princess Spotted Fawn

Someone mentioned that there was going to be a black moon this month and that it would bring intense tides. I live in California near the beach, so I am very curious as I have never heard of a black moon. Thank you for your time & efforts.

The term "black Moon" is

By Almanac Staff

The term "black Moon" is sometimes used to describe the second new Moon in a month--sort of the opposite of a blue Moon (second full Moon in a month). In 2014, January has two new Moons, the first was on January 1 and the second will be on January 30.

At any new or full Moon, the tides are slightly higher and lower than at other times--these are called spring tides. For January 30, the Moon is also at perigee, the closest point of approach to Earth during the Moon's elliptical orbit for the lunar month. At the time of perigee, tides are also slightly higher/lower. When a new or full Moon coincides with perigee, it is causes a perigean spring tide. These tides are slightly higher and lower than a spring tide. For most places, there is no concern for flooding; exceptionally low-lying areas (in certain parts of the nation) may occasionally experience minor flooding. The only possibility for significant flooding would be if a major storm occurred at the same time.

I have a llewelyns witches

By stiles

I have a llewelyns witches datebook and it says January is the cold moon?

We list certain Native

By Almanac Staff

We list certain Native American names for the full Moons, but other names have been used by different Native American tribes, early Colonial Americans, and likely many other groups of different interests and heritage throughout history. For example, it is our understanding that the Cherokee called this time (January) the "Month of the Cold Moon"; the Mohawk, "The Big Cold"; the Natchez, the "Cold Meal Moon"; and the Nez Perce, the "Cold Weather Moon." In contrast, the Algonquins called the full Moon the "Cold Moon" in what is December in the Gregorian calendar, and the "Wolf Moon" applied to January.

I kind of know things are

By lori meservey

I kind of know things are changing in the sky. And not for the good. Is there anyone that knows what I mean? Lori from detroit, me

I've heard that there will be

By Lisa Duncan

I've heard that there will be a. Of 4 Black Moons and that it is supposed to mean that the Antichrist is coming and the angels will fight. a friend heard that on the Christian channel. something like that.

As loggers we owe mother

By freebird

As loggers we owe mother earth a lot more planting o trees than we r falling when I was 7 I planted a 4 foot evergreen tree it is now over 50 ft tall and I have less than 10 trees at 100ft or pls I have fallen what a rush yes it is the 2nd most dangerous trade/skill we have and I love it I owe 1000 tree replant to earth for the job I do trades have expectations how many loggers owe mother earth a week end of renewing a resource that will be the house to live in or a fence to keep your kids out of the street in all life needs oxygen love needs life $ I am free bird what's up

I see things around the moon

By lori meservey

I see things around the moon that no one else around me can see. I'm not sure if there's an explanation? I see small dark red outline around moon where lit by sun. Meaning not around dark sides of moon. And a bright blue aura all the time. And more but was just inquiring on what's behind the moon. Thank you

Correction on name

By Terrie ann

Correction on name

I assume the extra 4th moon

By Treeie Ann

I assume the extra 4th moon of summer may be"Red" Moon, also, because of the fires the "Thunder," Moon may have developed. And possibly the true "Indian Summer" which only occurs when long weeks into late September or late October of unusual heat, & longer growing season?

Although that is a logical

By Almanac Staff

Although that is a logical assumption, our understanding is that the name "Red Moon" developed because the full Moon is often reddish in appearance when it rises through the typical haze of the season.
 
Indian Summer is a period of warm weather following a cold spell or a hard frost. According to various interpretations (and locations), it typically falls some time between late September and mid-November. However, for more than 200 years, the Almanac has adhered to the saying "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's (November 11) brings out Indian summer."

To Elder, Thank you for your

By Rue2u

To Elder, Thank you for your post~the poster who spoke of native americans useing modern technology is in a way correct we use it but we never forget what we owe the earth and if more of those who rely on modern technology were to give back more to mother eath they would find that it is many of the modern marvels that will destroy man kind~ :as sat and watched the end I knew then that man had eaten of knowledge to fast in doing so brought their own end"
Rue

Is it true, that a fence post

By Jeff Wichterman

Is it true, that a fence post that is set in the dark side of the moon phase, will not stand?

Great info. Thanks for the

By joe Anonymous

Great info. Thanks for the clarification especially from the real native American!

I'm not sure why we are

By None4u

I'm not sure why we are talking about Native American's in the past tense. Many still observe their respective teachings associated with each moon. Just saying...

Iam Native American and yes

By rachael foster

Iam Native American and yes we do still follow the moon phases today, just saying!

Uh, because we're talking

By Steve Reppucci

Uh, because we're talking about "early Native Americans", from Colonial times, all of whom are presumably dead now?
I'm pretty certain that modern born people of Native American decent likely use modern technology (calendars, clocks, heck even computers) rather than observing moon phases.
You can go back to your job at the PC police dept. now...

Nature has 13 moon cycles,

By An Elder

Nature has 13 moon cycles, not 12 as with the Anglo calendar. We (American Indians) still celebrate our gatherings and ceremonies based off those moon cycles which are in concert with the earth's energy. And while are ancestors have passed, our customs and traditions have not. You need to stick to what you know, not what you think you know.

Dear Elder, I understand your

By panacea

Dear Elder, I understand your view of living in concert with Earth's energy, but please remember that other people around the world feel this energy differently due to their geographic locations and create their calendars accordingly. Native Americans (I am descended from Cherokee farmers in the Carolinas) based their calendars upon the particular energy and cycles felt in North America, whereas the ancient Celtic peoples, or ancient African people, or ancient peoples of the steppes of Asia felt different rhythms in their daily lives. I am certain that as the first people crossed over onto the American continent from Asia, they had to adjust their traditional perceptions of the Earth's rhythms accordingly. There is a great deal that all of us do not know about each others experiences and perceptions in this world. It is wise to keep our hearts and minds open to each other.

I was born at dawn on the

By Laynee

I was born at dawn on the Winter Solstice in New England woodlands. Longest Night Moon.

my son was also born the

By Deborama

my son was also born the morning of the winter solstice, i thought it was such an auspicious date! i was aiming for the summer solstice with my daughter but she was a bit late, June 29th, lol

I'm not sure how the OFA

By Tom Weston

I'm not sure how the OFA connects full moons to the seasons in one sentence, and then connects them to calendar months in the next sentence (top of this page). I don't believe that the Native Americans knew of or cared about calendar months. They knew of and lived by the seasons, and they named their moons by the season, not by March or June. The first full moon of winter is the Wolf moon, and we continue forward. First of spring is Pink, first of summer is Thunder. The second of summer is Sturgeon. Then it gets tricky because the full moon closest to the first day of fall is the Harvest moon.
Half of the time it falls before the first day of fall, which can make it the third full moon of summer.
In 2012 it did not fall in the summer, so the third of summer was the full Fruit (or Red as you used) moon.
In 2013 it does fall in summer, but there are four moons this summer, so the third one will still be the Fruit/Red moon (and a TRUE BLUE moon, which is a whole nother sore subject).
Then the first of fall is Hunter's, second is Beaver and third of fall is back to Cold.
This is the true cycle of moon names based on the seasons, not on calendar months that the Natives did not go by. OFA should stay consistent and apply the moon names by season.

It is certainly true that the

By Almanac Staff

It is certainly true that the early Native Americans did not record time by using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. But, 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.

Thank you for the excellent

By Deborama

Thank you for the excellent explanation!

Um... Apparently I have the

By Anonymous123

Um... Apparently I have the beaver moon on my birthday

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