Naming the seasonal full moons dates back to the Native American tribes of North America. As a general rule, there’s one full moon in each calendar month, and so the name for the full moon applies to the entire month in which that moon occurs. However, there are occasional variations, such as instances where September has two full moons once every three years.
Tribes christened the full moons based on the flora, fauna, and activities of the seasons. This includes bloom and harvest times; animal migrations, breeding seasons, and periods of activity or dormancy; prominent weather patterns of the season; and hunting, fishing, and gathering times for the tribes. Although many of the tribes and even European settlers were fairly consistent with the names of the moons, there is some variation depending on the people and region.
January 28, 2021
Named for the time of year when the howls of wolves frequently reverberate through the cold midwinter air. Although it used to be believed that wolves howled due to hunger, howling is a way for the pack to communicate across long distances and can be a way of conveying information such a wolf’s location, position of prey, and warnings about other predators.
Alternative names: Spirit Moon • Old Moon
February 27, 2021
Named for the time of year when winter storms often bring heavy snowfall. Regionally harsh weather conditions made hunting very difficult for certain tribes.
Alternative names: Hunger Moon • Bone Moon • Bear Moon
March 28, 2021
Named for the time of year when the frozen ground thaws and life begins to stir in the soil. The robins have returned, and birds pluck abundant earthworms. Other types of worms and grubs are emerging from their winter hideouts such as tree bark. The northernmost tribes dubbed this the Crow Moon when the cawing crows announced the end of winter’s cold grasp. Settlers also called it the Sap Moon to mark the tapping of maple trees.
Alternative names: Crow Moon • Sugar Moon • Eagle Moon • Sap Moon • Lenten Moon
April 27, 2021
Named for the time of year when spring flowers blanket the earth. In particular, this moon is named for the wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom.
Alternative names: Egg Moon • Grass Moon • Budding Moon • Fish Moon
May 26, 2021
Named for the time of year when spring blooms erupt in a fragrant, colorful landscape. This includes spring bulbs such as crocus, daffodil, narcissus, tulip, lily of the valley, hyacinth, bluebells, et cetera; flowering trees such as dogwood, redbud, magnolia, crabapple, crape myrtle, pear, et cetera; early-blooming perennials such as peony, hellebore, violet, iris, bloodroot, bleeding heart, primrose, et cetera.
Alternative names: Milk Moon • Mother’s Moon • Frog Moon • Corn Planting Moon
June 24, 2021
Named for the time of year when the strawberries are ripening and ready to gather in colonial America. Because the strawberry harvest season is relatively short, the Strawberry Moon was a universal christening among all of the Algonquin tribes, although Europeans often called this full the Rose Moon instead.
Alternative names: Rose Moon • Hoeing Moon • Honey Moon
July 24, 2021
Named for the time of year when a buck’s antlers are developing. During this season, the antlers, coated in velvety fur, start to push out of the forehead. Another common name for this moon is the Thunder Moon in reference to the frequent heavy thunderstorms.
Alternative names: Thunder Moon • Raspberry Moon • Salmon Moon • Hay Moon
August 22, 2021
Named for the time of year when the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain are abundant and easily caught in large quantities. The fishing tribes are responsible for naming this moon.
Alternative names: Red Moon • Green Corn Moon • Grain Moon
September 21, 2021
Named for the time of year when the autumn equinox indicates the transitioning season and it’s time to bring in the harvest. The light of the full Harvest Moon would allow farmers and gatherers to work late into the night. Harvest time in the Northeast and Great Lakes included acorns, beans, birch bark, blackberries, blueberries, cattails, corn, cotton, cranberries, fish, grapes, honey, meats, milkweed, mint, pawpaws, peas, pecans, peppers, persimmons, potatoes, pumpkins, sassafras, squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, walnuts, wild rice, et cetera.
Alternative names: Barley Moon • Yellow Moon • Leaf Moon
October 20, 2021
Named for the time of year when the leaves are falling and the game is matured and fattened for winter. Now that the fields have been reaped, hunters can more easily spot foxes and other animals. Tribes go on hunts and prepare their stores of provisions for the long, cold months ahead. This moon is historically celebrated with feast.
Alternative names: Blood Moon • Sanguine Moon • Migrating Moon • Falling Leaves Moon
November 19, 2021
Named for the time of year when trappers set beaver traps before the swamps and ponds freeze. The beavers have finished their own preparations for winter and are beginning to retreat into their lodges. A beaver’s lodge is not the same as a dam, which is crafted to form ponds—a beaver’s favorite place to live. A lodge is a small, dome-shaped “house” made from woven sticks, grasses, and mosses, and held together with mud.
Alternative names: Frost Moon
December 19, 2021
Named for the time of year when winter settles in, the days are short, and the nights are long. Most of the wildlife has hunkered down, and the flora is dormant. The world seems to be in a state of rest.
Alternative names: Long Night’s Moon