Full Moon Names

Native American and other traditional names for full Moons

March 10, 2019
Full Moon Names
Colleen Quinnell, The Old Farmer's Almanac

Historically, Native American and other traditional names for full Moons were used to track the seasons. Think of them as “nicknames” for the Moon! See Full Moon names for each month of the year and their meanings.

The Full Moon Names we use in The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from Native American tribes, Colonial Americans, or other traditional North American names passed down through generations. (Note that each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred.)

Click on the linked names below for our monthly Full Moon Guides and see our Full Moon Calendar to find out the date of the next full Moon!

Month Name Description
January Full Wolf Moon Wolves tended to howl more often at this time. This Moon has also been called the Cold Moon and the Spirit Moon.
February Full Snow Moon The heaviest snows often fall in February. This Moon has also been called the Hunger Moon.
March Full Worm Moon The ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This has also been called 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 has also been called the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
May Full Flower Moon Flowers spring forth in abundance this month. This has also been called the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.
June Full Strawberry Moon In the Colonial areas, this was a time to gather ripening strawberries. It has also been called the Rose Moon and the Hot Moon.
July Full Buck Moon At this time, a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This full Moon has also been called the Thunder Moon, because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month.
August Full Sturgeon Moon The sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. This has also been called the Green Corn Moon.
September Full Corn Moon This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn. It has also called the Barley Moon, because it is the time to harvest and thresh the ripened barley. (See note below regarding the “Harvest Moon” timing.)
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 has also called the Travel Moon and the Dying Moon.
November Full Beaver Moon For both the colonists and local tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. This full Moon has 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 has also been called the Long Nights Moon.

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. 

Harvest full moon

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. 

Other Full Moon Names

  • Harvest Moon: The Harvest Moon is an astronomical name and refers to the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. It can occur in either September or October. Near the autumnal equinox, the Moon rises only about 30 minutes later each night, instead of about 50 minutes, providing a few evenings of extra light after sunset for farmers to continue harvesting. At this time of year, crops such as corn, pumpkins, squash, and wild rice are ready for gathering. 
  • Blue Moon: Occasionally, two full Moons occur within the same calendar month. The first full Moon goes by the name normally assigned to that month’s full Moon, but the second full Moon is commonly called a Blue Moon. Blue Moons occur about every 2½ years.
  • Black Moon: In contrast to the Blue Moon, Black Moon has been used to refer to a month in which there is no full Moon; this can only occur in February, because the calendar month has fewer days (28 or 29 days) than the lunar month (about 29.5 days). The term may also refer to a second new Moon occurring within a calendar month; by this definition, a Black Moon can never occur in February.
  • Supermoon: A full Moon is said to be a “Supermoon” when it is at the point in its orbit closest to the Earth. In astronomy, the terms “perigee syzygy” or “perigee full Moon” are typically used instead of “Supermoon.” Learn more about Supermoons.

When is the Next Full Moon?

Check out our Full Moon Calendar to see when the next full Moon will happen, and see our Moon Phase Calendar to find the Moon phase for a specific date!

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Reader Comments

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Moon names

Have you actually consulted any indigenous peoples in the making of this list?
Though it may be fun and folklore-y, I don't see any evidence that you are taking care to honour the true variety of indigenous traditions, or the profound negative effects of misrepresenting them, considering the long history of colonial appropriation of resources, culture, and land on this continent.

Native Sources

Before your outrage boils over, you might scroll down to the comments; a similar question was asked, and answered, in 2016.

Moon name

Danica, This question has been asked--and answered. You may wish to take 5 seconds to Google. Or, reference the Year of the Spirit Moons Calendar, produced by the Anishnaabe Kendaaswin, which uses monthly Moon names. The Algonquins are 8,000-members strong, mostly in Canada.

moons

This is a good book and the rest are good to

Moons

In the year 2017 we had several different moons I haven't seen before. Can or will someone tell me the names and meanings of all the moons we had in 2017. Thanks in advance, Delia

Moons in 2017

I want the names and meanings of all the moons we had in 2017.

moon names

I love the names of the full moons! The native Americans were very smart. Happy New Year, all. K

Blue Moon definition

The definition of a Blue Moon is as follows; when four full moons occur in one season, the third full moon is the Blue Moon. Many people think it's the second full moon none month, but it's not.

European Full Moon Names (in England, anyway)

The English moons were named (possibly) by the Pagan Britons, certainly continued in English folk tradition to the present day.

January Full Moon- AfterYule Moon
February Full Moon- Wolf Moon
March Full Moon- Lenten Moon (obviously a post-Christian name!)

April Full Moon- Egg Moon (for Eostre---the fertility goddess associated with the totem animal hare--from which "Easter" gets it name, and the Easter Bunny/Easter Egg have their origins in the CHRISTIAN calendar, astonishingly enough!

May Full Moon-- Milk Moon
June Full Moon- Flower Moon
July Full Moon- Hay Moon
August Full Moon- Grain Moon
September Full Moon-- Fruit Moon
October Full Moon- Harvest Moon
November Full Moon- Hunter's Moon
December Full Moon- Yule Moon

Nature loves a burst of

Nature loves a burst of energy.

New Moon Names?

I have heard that in addition to full moon names there were also New Moon names, but haven't been able to come across anything that seemed valid. Anybody ever hear of New Moon names or have any references to them?

names for the New Moon

Interesting question! However, we haven’t run across any names for new Moons for each month, although it is possible that such naming systems exist. Sometimes a particular new Moon will be called something, such as “Black Moon,” which has various definitions, including the second new Moon in a month. Native American Moon names sometimes applied to the whole lunar month, including the new Moon phase.

Full Moon IS New Moon

In trying to obscure Yahuah's calendar in the heavens, everything has been reversed.
The Two Great Lights were given for signs, seasons, days and years [Genesis 1] so, it makes sense that the Great Light of the Full Moon is the sign (banner, beacon, mark) that begins the 'moonth'. It is no surprise that the North East Native tribes, being most likely lost tribes of Israel, watched for and named the New (FULL) Moons.
As the moon marks the month, it also marks the year [Exodus 12]. After the cycle of the sun [vernal equinox] the Full Moon at the feet of Virgo that follows is the true New Year, not the 'sun sign'.

Full Birthday Moon

I saw the full moon on June 9th, as well. I was walking my little dog at night and saw it. June 9th is my birthday, so I felt sort of honored by that. Then I saw in my Almanac moon calendar for 2017 that it's called the Strawberry Moon -- wow! When we were kids my Mom and Dad let the birthday child pick the meal and the cake. I, the June birthday girl, always wanted lobster, corn on the cob, AND STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. You can't lie about the Moon: it's not possible. :-D Happy full moon to all.

moon

everybody has heard the saying "once in a blue moon". where did this come from and what does it mean?

Blue Moon definition

Blue Moon - Occasionally, there will be four full moons in one season rather than three (one full moon per month). When this occurs, the THIRD full moon is the Blue Moon.

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.

frost

The Editors's picture

You might be interested in the following page, which explains different levels of frost:
http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states

Also, here is another that talks about how to predict frost:
http://www.almanac.com/blog/almanac/musings/how-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

The Editors's picture

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!

LOVE YOU ARTICLES!

LOVE LOVE X0X0X0X0XX00X0

Miss u

Tiffany

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.

Up for the Moon

David: could it be you were channeling Cher and Nicolas Cage from "Moonstruck", the movie? Wonderful that you feel the moon like that.

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