Night Sky Gaze

Traditional Full Moon Names Explained

Have you heard the terms “wolf moon” or “strawberry moon” before? The poetic names of full moons are rooted in Native American traditions. We still use them today, as in January’s Super Blood Wolf Moon—which sounds more like a heavy metal band than an astronomical event, doesn’t it?

January – Wolf Moon

The first full moon of the year is traditionally called Wolf Moon. The name was inspired by the hungry howling of wolves during those long winter nights. You might also hear it called Old Moon or even Moon After Yule, but those names are less common.

February – Snow Moon

This name is pretty self-explanatory. February is a snowy month, and the indigenous tribes who named this moon had snow on their minds. Another name for February’s full moon is Hunger Moon—after all, you can’t grow much food in a snow bank.

March – Crow Moon

March’s full moon goes by many names. Some tribes called it Worm Moon after the earthworms that appeared once the snow began to melt. Others called it Crow Moon (our personal favorite) or the Full Sap Moon as the maple trees began to quicken.

April – Pink Moon

Ah, springtime! April’s full moon is often called Pink Moon after the tiny pink flowers of the phlox plant that begin to bloom this month. You might also hear it referred to as Egg Moon or Fish Moon.

May – Flower Moon

You can probably guess that May’s full moon is named after the abundant flowers this month brings. However, some tribes call it Milk Moon or even Corn Planting Moon.

June – Strawberry Moon

The Algonquin named this full moon after the fruit that needed to be harvested in June. Europeans referred to it as Rose Moon.

July – Buck Moon

In July, the new buck deer begin to grow their antlers, giving the full moon its traditional name. You might have also heard this one called Thunder Moon after the frequent summer storms of July.

August – Sturgeon Moon

Another moon with many names, August’s moon was called Sturgeon Moon by the tribes who fished the Great Lakes. Others referred to it as Red Moon because of the distinctive color of the moon on the horizon. Another, less common name is Green Corn Moon. The Disney movie Pocahontas took a little creative liberty with that name, asking “did you ever hear the wolf cry at the blue corn moon?”

September – Harvest Moon

Does anyone else have the song “Harvest Moon” stuck in their heads now? The light of the Harvest Moon shines down on the crops ready to be harvested across the land.

October – Hunter’s Moon

Winter is on the way, and with the harvest over there’s only one thing left to do. All those deer and other game that have spent the summer getting fattened up now need to be hunted.

November – Beaver Moon

The industrious beavers know that winter is almost here. They’ll spend the month of November making their dams safe—and so did the native tribes who named this full moon. You might also hear it called Oak Moon or Frosty Moon.

December – Cold Moon

You can guess why they called this one Cold Moon. Winter has come to stay, and it is, indeed, very cold the night of December’s full moon. It is also sometimes called Long Night’s Moon, since it falls close to the midwinter solstice.

Johnny Rodgers