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The Full Moon: Ancient Guide to Earth's Seasons

June 01, 2015 | By Jocelyn Mercado


Humans have gazed up at the nighttime sky for tens of thousands of years, looking for meaning and guidance from the moon and stars. Our closest neighbor in space, the moon has a profound effect on the Earth and on the human imagination. Its gravity is powerful enough to literally move the water in our oceans to high and low tides. Its shadow is dark enough to obscure our sun in a solar eclipse. Its brilliance can illuminate a traveler's path on a long winter's night.

The Moon As A Guide

Many centuries ago, our ancestors realized that the full moon was a guidepost to the seasons and even to their own activities. They began to give the full moon special names corresponding to the season and important annual occurrences. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere the June full moon is the Strawberry Moon because this is a peak time to harvest ripening fruit. In the Southern Hemisphere the June full moon is the Long Night's Moon because it is near the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year.

The moons for the same seasons have similar names in both hemispheres. For example, the August full moon in the North, and the February full moon in the South, have similar names (Corn Moon, Grain Moon) because this time is mid-summer in both cases, a season to celebrate successful crops and to look forward to the upcoming fall harvest.

Here is a list of full moon names by month for each hemisphere:

Northern Hemisphere full moon names by month:

    • January: Old Moon, Moon After Yule
    • February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
    • March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Lenten Moon
    • April: Grass Moon, Egg Moon
    • May: Planting Moon, Milk Moon
    • June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon
    • July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon
    • August: Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
    • September: Fruit Moon, Harvest Moon
    • October: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon
    • November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon
    • December: Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon

Southern Hemisphere full moon names by month:

    • January: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon
    • February: Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Wyrt Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon
    • March: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon
    • April: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon
    • May: Hunter’s Moon, Beaver Moon, Frost Moon
    • June: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon
    • July: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon
    • August: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
    • September: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon
    • October: Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Waking Moon
    • November: Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon
    • December: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon

So the next time you gaze up at the brightness of the full moon on a clear night, think of the deep meaning that its glow held for our ancestors. By remembering these names for the moon, we can become closer to the natural cycles of the Earth, as our ancestors once were.

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