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 This heaviest snows 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!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

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....

hi

hi

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.

June Solstice Moon

I saw the full moon last June, also. I believe it occurred on the summer solstice, was amber colored, and is thus called the Honey Moon. (Got this moon lore from the Almanac.) Am I wrong?? I love these articles and posts!

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!

Harvest moon

Harvest moon is any time someone plays it on the jukebox by Neil Young

Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, which is typically September 21st or 22nd. 2017's Harvest Moon happened in October, making September's full moon, the Full Corn Moon.

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.

Seriously?

"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

Pages