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!
|January||Full Wolf Moon||The howling of wolves was often heard at this time of year. It was traditionally thought that wolves howled due to hunger, but we now know that wolves use howls to define territory, locate pack members, and gather for hunting.||
|February||Full Snow Moon||February is typically a time of heavy snowfall.||
|March||Full Worm Moon||Traditionally thought to be named after the earthworms of warming spring soil, this Moon name actually refers to a different sort of “worm”—grubs—which emerge from thawing trees and other winter hideouts.||
|April||Full Pink Moon||This full Moon heralded the appearance of the “moss pink,” or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring wildflowers.||
|May||Full Flower Moon||Flowers spring forth in abundance this month.||
Corn Planting Moon
|June||Full Strawberry Moon||In Colonial America, this was a time to gather ripening strawberries.||
|July||Full Buck Moon||At this time, a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode.||
|August||Full Sturgeon Moon||The sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon.||
Green Corn Moon
|September||Full Corn Moon (or Harvest Moon*)||This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn. (See note below regarding the “Harvest Moon.”)||
|October||Full Hunter’s Moon||This is the month when the leaves are falling and the game is fattened up for winter. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long months ahead.||
|November||Full Beaver Moon||This was the time when beavers finished preparations for winter and retreated into their lodges.||
|December||Full Cold Moon||This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark.||
Long Nights Moon
|*Harvest Moon: The Harvest Moon is always the full Moon that occurs closest to the September equinox. If the Harvest Moon occurs in October, the September full Moon is called the Corn Moon instead. Similarly, the Hunter’s Moon always follows the Harvest Moon, meaning that it may also occur in November.|
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.
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.