The Lunar Year: Names of the Full Moon

Can a Full Moon Have More Than One Name?

When the Moon is Full by Penny PollackIn many cultures a folklore name is associated with each full moon of the year. January’s full moon was called the Wolf Moon by some Native Americans, as noted in Penny Pollock’s book, When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year.

The Farmer’s Almanac describes January’s moon lore, “Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.”

Both Pollock and the Farmer’s Almanac acknowledge February’s full moon as the Snow Moon since this was the month the heaviest snows fell. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “Some [Native American] tribes also referred to [the Feb.] Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.”

Pollock writes a simple children’s books that offers an elementary look at moon lore. It’s beautifully illustrated with woodcuts that have been hand colored by Mary Azarian, a Caldecott Award winning illustrator. Using lyrical poetry, the author takes the reader through a journey of twelve months by sharing Native American folklore that is associated with each month’s moon.

Pollack’s account of the full moons includes the January full moon as the Wolf Moon, a time when Native Americans observed wolves becoming restless. February is the Snow Moon due to heavy snows that used to happen in our area in years past. The Sap Moon is in March when the Maples come alive, and April is the Frog Moon as our little amphibian friends pop out on the spring scene. The Flower Moon is in May and the Strawberry Moon is in June. July hosts the Buck Moon when deer sprout their antlers, and August is the Green Corn Moon. The Harvest Moon happens in September, and due to the moon’s early rise October is the Hunter’s Moon because of the extra light added to the setting sun. The Beaver Moon is November’s moon and December is known for the Long Night Moon corresponding with the Winter Solstice.

Pollock has a couple of pages in the back of her book with questions and answers about the moon. One question is “Can a full moon have more than one name?” And her answer is yes! Many.


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