The names of the Full Moons, what they mean and where the 13 denominations come from

Every month, punctually, when the full moon arrives we hear about the “Strawberry Moon”, “Hunter’s Moon” and so on. Headlines like “The Wolf Moon is coming” give the idea that the upcoming full moon has something special, when in reality this is not the case. Some of these names, especially “Pink Moon” and “Blue Moon”, are confusing to more than one person who expects to see our colorful satellite soon. So let’s clarify what the names of full moons mean, where they come from and why we started using them.

Let’s start by saying that in a year there are a maximum of 13 full moons: the full moon (i.e. the lunar phase in which the entire hemisphere of the Moon is illuminated and faces the Earth) returns every 29 and a half days, so there is one per month, but exceptionally a month with two full moons can happen . In all so we have 13 Full Moons to name: 12 for the various months plus a name for the “extra full moon” when there are two in a month. These names they have no scientific meaning but they have a purely cultural value: many ancient civilizations gave names to the full moons and some of these have remained until today.

Here in Italy the tradition – if it ever existed – has disappeared, but for several years it has “come back through the window” due to the influence of American media. In fact, in the United States there is a custom to informally assign the names of the full Moons Native American traditionparticularly that of Algonquins. These names linked to natural events that occur in that particular month. When we read or hear about the “Strawberry Moon”, this is actually a tradition of the ancient name that the Algonquins gave to the full Moon of June, the month in which the strawberry harvest took place. Those of Native Americans are not the only ones, on the contrary. Each full moon has several possible names, which derive from various civilizations of the past (including European ones). Simply, here in Italy the American ones have taken root more due to the media influence of the USA in our culture, also through films (think of Killers of the Flower Moon by Martin Scorsese) or songs (for example Pink Moon by Nick Drake).

Here are the 13 names of the Full Moons month by month, according to Native American tradition:

January: Wolf Moon (wolf moon)
The name derives from the fact that in this month wolves pushed into Native American settlements driven by cold and hunger.

February: Snow Moon (snow moon)
This was in fact the month in which the snow was most abundant.

March: Earthworm Moon (worm moon)
After the thaw, these animals emerge from the ground again, indicating the approach of spring.

April: Pink Moon (pink moon)
In this month the pink flowers of the genus bloom Phloxwidespread in North America.

May: Flower Moon (flower moon)
The month with the greatest abundance of flowers.

June: Strawberry Moon (strawberry moon)
The strawberry harvest took place in June.

July: Deer Moon (buck moon)
Deer antlers grow in this month.

August: Sturgeon Moon (sturgeon moon)
August was the ideal month for catching this fish on the shores of the Great Lakes.

September: Harvest Moon (harvest moon)
This was the corn harvest month.

October: Hunter’s Moon (hunter’s moon)
The month of great hunts before the arrival of winter.

November: Beaver Moon (beaver moon)
In November this rodent prepares for hibernation; furthermore it was the month in which traps were prepared to capture this rodent.

December: Cold Moon or Long Nights Moon (cold moon or long nights moon)
December is the month of the arrival of the first big cold and above all the month in which the nights reach their maximum duration (in the northern hemisphere).

And then there’s the Blue Moon (blue moon)which is the traditional name given to the second full moon in the same month.