The word, "moon," is the origin of the word, "month," which is roughly the amount of time it takes the moon to travel through its all of its phases in the sky. Months on the Julian calendar are named after Roman gods, emperors and numbers. The Algonquin tribes of the Northeast took a more natural approach, and named their full moons (and the month it appeared in) after what was going on around them. While there are variations from tribe to tribe, the list below contains the most commonly used names. Can you match up the Native American moon with the month that appears on Julian calendars?
Beaver Moon: Beavers are active this moon as they prepare for winter. The tribes prepared for winter by setting beaver traps before the swamps or streams froze, to guarantee a supply of warm winter furs.
Full Buck Moon: As a rule, this is when the new antlers of buck deer began to appear. Some tribes called this the Full Thunder Moon because of the many thunderstorms at this time.
Full Fish Moon: Tribes living along the coast knew that this was when shad swim upstream. Farther inland, it was known as Pink Moon, named for the wild ground phlox, a pink, early spring wildflower widespread in the region.
Full Flower Moon: This is the time of year when wildflowers are most abundant in much of the region.
Harvest Moon or Corn Moon: The Harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. Thus in two years out of three, it appears in this month, and in the third year, another. This is the time to harvest squash, beans, corn pumpkin, beans and wild rice. Because the time between moonrise and sunset is shorter than usual, the light of the moon allowed farmers to work later into the night.
Harvest Moon or Hunter's Moon: Once every three years, the harvest moon appears in this month. Animals, which by now are fattened for winter, slow down, making them easier to catch.
Full Long Nights Moon: This is the moon when nights are longest. Because of the low-lying sun this time of year, the moon has a high trajectory, and appears above the horizon for a long time.
Full Snow Moon: The heaviest snows generally fall during this time. Because deep snow made hunting more difficult, another name is Full Hunger Moon.
Full Strawberry Moon: The Farmers Almanac notes that this name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. It was the time to harvest strawberries, which are at their peak this month.
Full Sturgeon Moon: Sturgeon were more easily caught during this moon. It was also known as the Full Red Moon because the moon appears red when it rises through the sultry hazes that are common at this time.
Full Wolf Moon: This is when the snow is deep, and hungry wolf packs seemed to howl longer than usual outside their villages.
Full Worm Moon: Tribes in the southern part of the region noticed that warming temperatures caused the ground to thaw and earthworms or their casts would start to appear, signaling the start of spring. Northerly tribes called this the Full Crow Moon, because crows would start to caw which, to them, was a sign of spring.
January: Full Wolf Moon
February: Full Snow or Hunger Moon
March: Full Worm or Crow Moon
April: Full Fish or Pink Moon
May: Full Flower Moon
June: Full Strawberry Moon
July: Full Buck or Thunder Moon
August: Full Sturgeon or Red Moon
September: Full Corn or Harvest Moon
October: Full Hunter's or Harvest Moon
November: Full Beaver Moon
December: Full Long Nights Moon