Full Moon Names

Traditional Names for the Full and New Moons

September 23, 2020
Full Moon Names
Colleen Quinnell, The Old Farmer's Almanac

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

Where Do Moon Names Come From?

The Moon names we use in The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional North American sources passed down through generations.

Note that for Native American names, each Moon name was traditionally applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, the month starting either with the new Moon or full Moon. Additionally, a name for the lunar month might vary each year or between bands or other groups within the same nation.

Some names listed here may reflect usage at one time in history, but may no longer be used by a designated group today. Many of the names listed here are English interpretations of the words used in Native American languages. They are only roughly aligned here with the months of the Gregorian calendar; you’ll notice that some names are repeated in multiple months.

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!





Moon Names by Month

Month Name Description Alternative Names
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, reinforce social bonds, and gather for hunting.

• Canada Goose Moon
• Center Moon
• Cold Moon
• Freeze Moon
• Frost Exploding Moon
• Great Moon
• Greetings Moon
• Hard Moon
• Severe Moon
• Spirit Moon

February Full Snow Moon February is typically a time of heavy snowfall.

• Bald Eagle Moon
• Bear Moon
• Month of the Bony Moon
• Eagle Moon
• Groundhog Moon
• Hungry Moon
• Raccoon Moon

March Full Worm Moon Traditionally thought to be named after the earthworms of warming spring soil. Alternatively, in the late 1700s, Jonathan Carver wrote that this Moon actually refers to a different sort of “worm”—larvae—which emerge from the bark of trees and other winter hideouts around this time.

• Crow Comes Back Moon
• Eagle Moon
• Goose Moon
• Snow Crust Moon
• Sore Eye Moon
• Sugar Moon
• Wind Strong Moon

April Full Pink Moon This full Moon heralded the appearance of the “moss pink,” or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring wildflowers.

• Breaking Ice Moon
• Broken Snowshoe Moon
• Budding Moon of Plants and Shrubs
• Frog Moon
• Moon of the Red Grass Appearing
• Moon When the Ducks Come Back
• Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs
• Moon When the Streams are Again Navigable
• Sucker Moon
• Sugar Maker Moon

May Full Flower Moon Flowers spring forth in abundance this month.

• Budding Moon
• Egg Laying Moon
• Frog Moon
• Leaf Budding Moon
• Planting Moon
• Moon of Shedding Ponies

June Full Strawberry Moon This was the time to gather ripening strawberries in what is now the northeastern United States.

• Berries Ripen Moon
• Birth Moon
• Blooming Moon
• Egg Laying Moon
• Hatching Moon
• Green Corn Moon
• Hot Moon
• Hoer Moon

July Full Buck Moon At this time, a buck’s (male deer’s) antlers are in full growth mode.

• Berry Moon
• Feather Moulting Moon
• Halfway Summer Moon
• Month of the Ripe Corn Moon
• Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe
• Raspberry Moon
• Salmon Moon
• Thunder Moon

August Full Sturgeon Moon The sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were said to be most readily caught during this full Moon.

• Black Cherries Moon
• Corn Moon
• Flying Up Moon
• Harvest Moon
• Mountain Shadows Moon
• Ricing 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.”)

• Autumn Moon
• Child Moon
• Falling Leaves Moon
• Harvest Moon
• Leaves Turning Moon
• Mating Moon
• Moon of Brown Leaves
• Moon When the Rice is Laid Up to Dry
• Rutting Moon
• Yellow Leaf Moon

October Full Hunter’s Moon (or Harvest Moon*) This is the month when 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.

• Drying Rice Moon
• Falling Leaves Moon
• Freezing Moon
• Ice Moon
• Migrating Moon

November Full Beaver Moon This was the time when beavers finished preparations for winter and retreated into their lodges.

• Deer Rutting Moon
• Digging/Scratching Moon
• Freezing Moon
• Frost Moon
• Whitefish Moon

December Full Cold Moon This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark.

• Drift Clearing Moon
• Frost Exploding Trees Moon
• Hoar Frost Moon
• Little Spirit Moon
• Long Night Moon
• Mid-winter Moon
• Moon of the Popping Trees
• Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers
• Snow Moon
• Winter Maker Moon

*According to one tradition, which the Old Farmer’s Almanac honors, the Harvest Moon is always the full Moon that occurs closest to the September equinox. Most years, it falls in September; every three years, it falls in October. (Astronomical seasons do not match up with the lunar month.) If the Harvest Moon occurs in October, the September full Moon is usually called the Corn Moon instead. Similarly, the Hunter’s Moon always follows the Harvest Moon. (Note that these last two conditions are not according to Native American tradition.)

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 or new 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 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 Moon names and applied them to their own calendar system (primarily Julian, and later, Gregorian); they also brought their own traditions from Europe. 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. 

Moon Name Reference Sources

If you are interested in learning more, below are credible reference sources for these Full Moon Names—from Native American organizations to early American historical references. 

Other Full Moon Names

The following Moon names came into popular use more recently and do not refer to any specific month’s Moon:

  • 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 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

Leave a Comment

Gravel

What moon is best to lay down gravel or rock? Thanks

Full moon names.

The full moon names listed in the Farmers Almanac are from the Eastern Nations and the early Colonists.Other Nations frequently had other names for the full moons. Especially the SouthEastern Nations and the SouthWestern Nations. The Northwestern Nations definitely have different names for the full moons. So, if you hears the moons called a different name in your travels remember that they can and will change depending on what area of the country you are in.

Russet moon

I heard a lot about "russet moons", but never know exactly what it is except may be that it could happen in april? You don't speak about that in your very interesting and complete page about full moons. Do you know something about russet moon? Thank you!

Re: Russet Moon

The Editors's picture

Hi there! We hadn’t heard of this term before, but after doing a little research, we found the following: According one source, in French folklore, if the full Moon occurs in late April or early May, it is called the “russet Moon” or “red Moon,” or in French, “la lune rousse,” because it is thought to bring frosts, which brown the vegetation (hence, “russet”). Another source says that the belief wasn’t that the Moon at this time brought damaging cold temperatures, but that the moonlight itself during this time period was injurious to plants. Another source stated that “lune rousse” is the full Moon after Easter. As you can see, the folklore varies a bit, but overall, it links the April/May Moon to poor plant health. Thanks for sharing!

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

The Editors's picture

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!

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