, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This week’s Strawberry Moon made me wonder: WHAT is a strawberry moon, WHY are there so many names for our moon, WHAT do they all mean, and WHERE did they originate? Alas, the hazards of being a writer.

Moon over lake

What is a Strawberry Moon?

The full moon in June was called a Strawberry Moon by the Algonquin tribes (one of the most widespread North American native tribes), because it signaled the time for harvesting wild strawberries. The June full moon has also been known as the Honey Moon, Mead Moon, Hot Moon, and Rose Moon by other tribes and cultures.

Strawberry moon

WHY so many names for ONE moon?

In the United States, Native Americans created the full moon names—nicknames—we know today to help in tracking the seasons. There’s a nickname for a full moon each month, even though the tribes observed the seasons and lunar months, not calendar months as we do.

Some tribes defined a year as 12 moons, others as 13. Certain tribes added an extra moon every few years, to stay in sync with the seasons. The following is a list of traditional nicknames for the full moons.

  • JANUARY—Wolf Moon—This moon appeared when wolves were hungry and howled in outside villages.
  • FEBRUARY—Snow Moon—This moon appeared when the snowfall was the heaviest. Hunting was most difficult during this time and Native American tribes also called it the Hunger Moon.
  • MARCH—Worm Moon—This moon appeared when the ground softened and earthworms reappeared, bringing the return of robins. This moon was also known as the Sap Moon, because it was time for the annual tapping of maple trees.
  • APRIL—Pink Moon—This moon appeared with the first spring flowers, wild ground phlox. This moon was also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
  • MAY—Flower Moon—This moon appeared when flowers bloomed in abundance. It was also known as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
  • JUNE—Strawberry Moon—This moon appeared when it was time to gather ripening strawberries.
  • JULY—Buck Moon—This moon appeared when a buck’s antlers were reaching full growth. This full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon, because of the frequent thunderstorms during this month.
  • AUGUST—Sturgeon Moon—This moon appeared when the sturgeon in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most abundant. This moon was also called the Green Corn Moon.
  • SEPTEMBER—Corn Moon—This moon appeared when it was time to harvest the corn. Likewise known as the Barley Moon, because it was time to harvest barley.
  • OCTOBER—Hunting Moon—This moon appeared when the game was fattest. It was time to hunt and store provisions for winter. This moon was also known as the Travel Moon.
  • NOVEMBER—Beaver Moon—This moon appeared before the swamps froze and it was time to set beaver traps. The colonists and Algonquin tribes depended on the furs of beavers and other animals for warmth during the winter. This full Moon was also called the Frost Moon.
  • DECEMBER—Cold Moon—This moon appeared when the winter cold had set in and the nights were longest. This full Moon was also called the Long Nights Moon.

Moon over sea

Special Moons

Several moon occurrences are extremely rare and therefore have special names:

  • Blue Moon—There is a Blue Moon controversy regarding the true meaning. However, typically this is the second full moon in a calendar month.
  • Black Moon—This is a month in which there is no full Moon. It can also refer to a second new Moon occurring within a calendar month.
  • Harvest Moon—This is the full Moon nearest the start of fall (autumnal) equinox, anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the equinox. The moonrise comes soon after sunset bringing in an abundance of bright moonlight, which helped farmers in harvesting their crops.
  • Supermoon—A full Moon is a Supermoon when it is reaches the point in its orbit that is closest to the Earth.

Super moon