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Ancient Moon Month Names

Updated on May 24, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

I like to delve into the history, costuming, foods, and customs of places and holidays. World cultures and traditions are fascinating.

Celts Had Lunar Calender

Many ancient cultures relied upon the lunar Calendar, as did  the Romans until Julius Caesar introduced the Egyptian system of a solar based year.
Many ancient cultures relied upon the lunar Calendar, as did the Romans until Julius Caesar introduced the Egyptian system of a solar based year. | Source

A Moon by Any Other Name

You've heard of the "Harvest moon", but did you realize that many cultures had names for the moon each month, through the seasons?

Of course, the Native American tribes counted time with lunar cycles and had descriptive names,many people are aware of that. But so did most agricultural societies.

Even if their calender was ruled by the sun, the months -with their planting and husbandry cycles- were ruled by the moon. Today, we only use vestiges of those old designations when we speak of a "Harvest moon",etc. Once though, all the months had specific names for their full moons. It can tell you something of the culture and occupations of these older societies.

Ancient Cultures

Why did people name moons?

Trivia Facts About Lunar Time

National Geographic explains it this way:

"For millennia, humans have used the movement of the moon to keep track of the passing year and set schedules for hunting, planting, and harvesting. Ancient cultures the world over have given these full moons names based on the behavior of the plants, animals, or weather during that month."

It is easy to understand that concept as one reads through the monthly names, but did you know that some cultures had lunar time keeping while in the West we have a solar calendar? How did that happen?

The commonly used calendar today is one based on those of the Romans. We use the Gregorian one, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The intent was to improve on the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar.

Muslims use a lunar calendar of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

Calculating Easter Sunday for Christians requires the knowledge of the full moon cycle. Easter Sunday is on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.

What might be the oldest known lunar calendar :

"What could be the oldest lunar calendar ever created has been identified on the walls of the famous, prehistoric caves at Lascaux in France.

The interpretation that symbolic paintings, dating back 15,000 years, show the Moon going through its different phases comes from Dr Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich. " -Read more from the article, 'Oldest lunar calendar identified'

Moon Gazing

Midnight Moon card
Midnight Moon card | Source

How Moon Names Can Benefit You

...taking notes from ancient cultures



We are no longer as in touch with natural rhythms as when more of our lives were centered around agricultural occupations of earlier times.

Even the more recent agricultural practices had distanced themselves from the need to forage and hunt wild animals for existence. So, when familiarizing oneself with the names that cultures attached to the full moons it becomes easy to imagine what it may have been like to be close to nature and observe the animals like buffalo or deer. Or to know which months were best for gathering berries important to the diet.

Not only imagining, but becoming more observant and in tune with how nature's cycles can teach us.

How we may better garden, or eat fresh locally, the moon names can provide a guide to ancient rhythms of planting and harvesting.

We can eat strawberries any time of year if we don't mind buying our supply from something grown halfway around the world, but if you want to gather wild from the woods, or buy locally produced berries.... which month do you expect to find them?

The Algonquin Indian culture could have told you when to find wild strawberries in the Northeastern USA .

Perhaps this knowledge is more fun than useful, but isn't there a connection between how poorly we have husbanded the earth and our disconnect from it through modern lives and cultures?

Blue Moon

What is it? An extra moon in a season, a fourth full moon instead of the usual three.

When Is The Wolf Moon?

The Native Americans named a certain time of year after the wolf. Guess which one.
The Native Americans named a certain time of year after the wolf. Guess which one.

Trivia Pursuit of Moon Name Facts

The moon month names follow the type of society in which they are celled. Many of the old names are from hunter gatherer societies, as in the case of the Native Americans, while others are after the agrarian society concerns of seedtime and harvest. In all cases there is a tie between the phases of nature and the procession of full moons throughout the year.

Some Appellations Coincide

January's wolf moon is medieval English. The North Eastern American Indian also called the January full moon "wolf moon". It was a time when the hungry wolves could be heard outside the camp.

February's ice moon is of Celtic origin.

November: Snow or beaver moon?

Snow moon is medieval English.

Beaver moon is Colonial American and Eastern Native American marking the best time to set beaver traps for the prized pelts.

For Some, Cultures Took Opposite Views

The Chinese called it the white moon,

To the Celts it was the dark moon.

Lunar Names


  • December: The Celts called this moon the cold moon...
  • ...It was the Christmas moon to the Colonial Americans,
  • Bitter moon to the Chinese...
  • Every Algonquin tribe called the June full moon the "Strawberry Moon".
  • Celts referred to the moon as 'queen of the night'.

Source

Autumn Months

September


  • Corn Moon
  • Harvest Moon
  • Song-time
  • Wine Moon

October


  • Hunter's Moon
  • Travel Moon
  • Dying Grass Moon
  • Blood Moon
  • Seed-fall

November


  • Snow Moon
  • Dark Moon
  • Fog Moon
  • Beaver Moon
  • Mourning Moon
  • Blotmonath (Sacrifice Month)
  • Herbistmanoth (Harvest Month)
  • Mad Moon
  • Moon of Storms
  • Moon When Deer Shed Antlers
  • Trading
  • Falling Leaves

Winter Months

December


  • Cold Moon
  • Oak Moon
  • Wolf Moon
  • Long Night's Moon
  • Aerra Geola (Month Before Yule)
  • Wintermonat (Winter Month)
  • Heilagmanoth (Holy Month)
  • Big Winter Moon
  • Moon of Popping Trees
  • Deer Shed Their Horns

January


  • Chaste Moon
  • Cold Moon
  • Disting Moon
  • Moon of Little Winter
  • Quiet Moon
  • Snow Moon
  • Wolf Moon
  • Strong Cold

February


  • Big Winter Moon
  • Horning Moon
  • Hunger Moon
  • Ice Moon
  • Red Cleansing Moon
  • Storm Moon
  • Sun Moon
  • Quickening Moon
  • Wild Moon
  • Chaste Moon Dark Red Calves
  • Trapper's Moon

The Spring Months

Full Moon Names

March


  • Sap Moon
  • Lenten Moon
  • Crow Moon
  • Crust Moon
  • Sugar Moon
  • Chaste Moon
  • Death Moon
  • Plow Moon

April


  • Sprouting Grass Moon
  • Fish Moon
  • Pink Moon
  • Seed Moon
  • Waking Moon
  • Budding Moon

May


  • Flower Moon
  • Corn Planting Moon
  • Milk Moon
  • Hare's Moon
  • Mother's Moon

Summer Months

June


  • Strawberry Moon
  • Rose Moon
  • Honey Moon
  • Hot Moon
  • Flower Moon
  • Bright time

July


  • Buck Moon
  • Thunder Moon
  • Hay Moon
  • Mead Moon
  • Horse-time

August


  • Full Red Moon
  • Green Corn Moon
  • Lightning Moon
  • Dog Moon
  • Fruit Moon
  • Arbitration-time

Phases Of The Moon

Indian Moons

Tribes with Moon Clans include the Mohave, Ottawa, and Pueblo tribes. The North Eastern tribes marked the time through lunar months, and many of the names we know as Native American Moon names comes from these tribes.

Sign The Moon Name Guestbook - ..even if you only comment once in a blue moon...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      For they who may be interested...Northern gardeners tips: When planting flowering plants, do so when the Moon is in the first quarter. (For extra fragance, plant when the Moon is in Libra.).Lettuces should be planted under a New Moon; potatoes should be dug when the Moon is waning, while fruit should only be picked when the Moon is waxing! (Fishermen say the bigger catches are immediately after the Full Moon...)

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 

      7 years ago from USA

      Unique and interesting lens! There is a lot here to learn about moon month names. Great job.

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