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What Are The Different Names For Our Moon?

Over the moons

The English word moon is very old and dates back to before the year 900. It originally comes from the Old English word mona and is related to the Latin mēnsis, meaning “month.” As you’ll soon see, this isn’t the only link between the moon and calendar months. In fact, different cultures had different nicknames for the moon to go with each month of the year, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. These nicknames were used to refer to the moon during an entire lunar phase cycle starting at either a full or new moon. For example, January’s moon might generally be called the Wolf Moon or the Full Wolf Moon, when specifically referring to the January full moon. When looking at lunar calendars, you will often find these common folk names still used to refer to the full moons throughout the year.

full moon

full moon

Before we get to that, though, let’s look at some terms that people have used to refer to the moon through the years.

 

  • full moon: The full moon is the phase of the moon in which the entire moon is visible thanks to sunlight. During this time, the moon looks like a bright, full circle in the night sky.
  • supermoon: A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at or near its closest distance to Earth. Astronomers scientifically refer to this event as a perigean full moon.
  • micromoon: The term micromoon (or minimoon) is informally used as the opposite of a supermoon. Micromoon refers to a full moon that occurs when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth. In 2022, none of the full moons will be micromoons.
  • blood moon: The term blood moon is used to refer to the moon during a total lunar eclipse. During this time, the moon appears blood red or reddish-brown because the only light that hits the moon is reflected light from the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • blue moon: The term blue moon is informally used to refer to a second full moon that occurs during a single calendar month. This event is very rare—sadly, it won’t occur in 2022—and so the phrase once in a blue moon is used to refer to events that rarely happen.
  • harvest moon: The harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. The autumnal equinox occurs around September 22 or 23, so the harvest moon will fall in either September or October.

The moon has always fascinated us and has inspired a lot of different words and phrases that we use to refer to a wide variety of things. Now that we’ve covered this terminology, follow along for a list of unique names for each month’s full moon, starting with January’s Wolf Moon (or Frost Exploding Moon).

January | Wolf Moon

January | Wolf Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: January 17

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a reference full of weather predictions and advice, has been published continuously since 1792 and has captured the old names used to refer to the different full moons throughout the year. According to the almanac, January’s Wolf Moon was named for the howling of wolves that was often heard during the month. People once thought wolves howled because they were hungry and on the hunt for prey–such as foolish moon gazers. Now, we know that wolves howl as a general form of communication, which means those howling wolves could have been talking about anything.

Other traditional names for January’s moon are related to the harsh, cold winter weather one experiences in the Northern Hemisphere during January. These include names such as the Cold Moon, Frost Exploding Moon, Hard Moon, and Severe Moon.

February | Snow Moon

February | Snow Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: February 16

Which leads us to February’s Snow Moon. This name was inspired by the snowfalls of February, which is statistically the snowiest month of the year on average in the United States.

Besides the weather, other traditional names for the February Moon were inspired by animals or the difficulty of finding food during the winter. Some other traditional names include Bear Moon, Eagle Moon, Hungry Moon, and Raccoon Moon.

 

Feeling moonstruck yet? You can learn more about terms that have been inspired by the moon.

March | Worm Moon

March | Worm Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: March 18

Worms? Yay! Yay? Worm Moon, the traditional name for the March moon was inspired by the emergence of earthworms and bugs from the soil and trees during the beginning of spring.

Other traditional names for the March moon were typically inspired by the changing of the season or nature in general. Some of these names include the Crow Comes Back Moon, Sugar Moon, Strong Winds Moon, and Sore Eyes Moon.

April | Pink Moon

April | Pink Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: April 16

Sadly, the moon doesn’t turn pink in April. No, this traditional name was inspired by the plant Phlox subulata, also known as moss pink, which is native to the central and eastern United States. The plant’s pink flowers usually bloom during April, which explains the nickname.

Like the names of the March moon, the traditional names of April’s moon were often inspired by the transition from winter to spring. Some other traditional names of the April moon include the Breaking Ice Moon, Budding Moon of Plants and Shrubs, and Moon When the Ducks Come Back.

May | Flower Moon

May | Flower Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: May 16

April showers bring May flowers and a flowery moon to go along with them! This traditional name for May’s moon was inspired by the many flowers that bud during the month. Even today, the month of May is still associated with flowers.

Other traditional names for the May moon often reference flowers or the warm weather that allows them to grow. These names include Budding Moon, Leaf Budding Moon, Planting Moon, and Egg Laying Moon.

In 2022, the first of two lunar eclipses will occur in May. Depending on where you live, it may be possible to see a blood moon when the lunar eclipse is visible during the night of May 15/May 16.

June | Strawberry Moon

June | Strawberry Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: June 14

The tasty traditional name of June’s moon recognizes the fact that June was the time to harvest strawberries for many of the Indigenous Peoples of North America. This is still true even today as strawberries typically ripen during the transition from spring to summer, so June is the peak time to harvest strawberries in North America.

Some traditional names for the June moon were based on the natural events associated with the spring-summer transition, such as Blooming Moon, Birth Moon, and Hatching Moon. Other traditional names were inspired by things people would eat and drink during the June marriage season, such as Mead Moon and Honey Moon.

According to most metrics, June’s full moon will be the first of two supermoons that occur in 2022.

 

What does the moon have to do with the days of the week? Learn the history of the name Monday and its connection to the moon.

July | Buck Moon

July | Buck Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: July 13

The traditional name of Buck Moon for the July moon was inspired by the word buck (“male deer”), because it had been observed that bucks’ antlers grow largest during this month. Modern research of the deer antler growth cycle supports this observation.

Other traditional names of July’s moon were inspired by animals and plants commonly found in North America during the summer. These names include Salmon Moon, Berry Moon, and Raspberry Moon.

According to most metrics, July’s full moon will be the second and last supermoon of 2022.

August | Sturgeon Moon

August | Sturgeon Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: August 12

The fishy name of August’s moon is named after the sturgeon, a general name for different types of large fish that can be found in North American lakes and rivers. August’s moon was named after sturgeon because these fish were most easily caught in August following their typical mating season. Today, many types of sturgeon are considered endangered, and sturgeon fishing is often prohibited or strictly regulated.

Other traditional names for the August moon, such as Corn Moon, Ricing Moon, and Black Cherries Moon, are based on the harvesting of summer crops.

September | Harvest Moon or Corn Moon

September | Harvest Moon or Corn Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: September 10

The traditional name of Harvest Moon is given to either the September or October moon, depending on which full moon occurs closer to the autumnal equinox. Because the September full moon is usually the closer one, it is more often referred to as the Harvest Moon. If it isn’t, then the name Corn Moon is used to refer to September’s moon. Either way, Harvest Moon and Corn Moon both refer to the fact that the late summer/early fall was the time when North American peoples would harvest important crops, like corn, that would get them through the winter.

Other traditional names for the September moon such as Autumn Moon, Moon of Brown Leaves, and Falling Leaves Moon, reference the fact that September is the time when summer gives way to fall.

In 2022, the September full moon is this year’s Harvest Moon, as it is the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox, which will occur on September 22.

 

Winter, spring, summer, fall… or autumn? Why does this season have two names?

October | Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon

October | Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: October 9

Traditionally, the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Because the harvest moon usually happens in September, the October moon is typically called the Hunter’s Moon. The name of this moon is thought to come from the practice of North American peoples engaging in hunting after the fields had been harvested and before the winter came. You can never be too prepared for winter, so hunters would gather meat before the winter weather would force animals (and the hunters) to seek shelter.

Other traditional names for the October moon include Migrating Moon, Freezing Moon, and Ice Moon. These names reference the fact that October soon leads to winter and temperatures start to drop.

November | Beaver Moon

November | Beaver Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: November 8

The traditional name of the November moon comes from the beaver, a large rodent famous for building natural dams. November’s moon was named after this busy animal because November was a good time for North America peoples to hunt and trap beavers as they normally retreat to their lodges during this time.

Other traditional names for the November moon, such as Digging Moon, Deer Rutting Moon, and Whitefish Moon, were inspired by other animals who are busy during November as they prepare for winter. The traditional names Frost Moon and Freezing Moon were also used to indicate that this moon often signaled that winter was fast approaching.

In 2022, the second lunar eclipse will happen in November. Depending on where you live, the eclipse may appear as a blood moon when it occurs on the night of November 7/November 8.

December | Cold Moon

December | Cold Moon

Full Moon Date in 2022: December 7

Winter is in full swing—in the Northern Hemisphere, at least—by the time that December’s Cold Moon graces the sky. The explanation behind the traditional name for December’s moon shouldn’t be hard to figure out if you live in Canada or the northern United States and have had the “pleasure” of experiencing a frigid winter.

Many other traditional names for the December moon reference the freezing winter weather, such as Hoar Frost Moon, Snow Moon, Moon of the Popping Trees, and Winter Maker Moon.

Take the quiz!

Ready to prove you’ve been moonlighting as a lunar expert? Take our super moon quiz to see how much you’ve learned.

The skies have always fascinated us, from the types of moons to equinoxes and solstices. Do you know the difference between the two?

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