The Full Moon in January is called the Wolf Moon, after the hungry packs of wolves that howled at night.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.

Nicknames for the Full Moon

Do you know anybody who has a nickname? Did you know that the Full Moon has a bunch of nicknames?

Native Americans who lived in the North and East parts of North America had many nicknames for the Full Moon. They gave the Full Moon a different nickname for each month of the year. The nicknames helped them keep track of the seasons. The Native Americans who made up the nicknames are called the Algonquian tribes. The Algonquian tribes liked to hunt and fish, and to grow crops for food. Most of the names they had for the Moon were about hunting, fishing, plants, or the seasons.

Some European settlers learned the names for the Full Moon from the Algonquian people. Some of the settlers used the "moon names" too. Most people today have heard of the "Harvest Moon". Farmers harvest their crops in the fall. The farmers can work late, after sunset, because of light from the Harvest Moon.

Here are the names the Algonquian people used for the Full Moon at different times of the year.

Month Moon name Why that name?
January Wolf Moon Hungry wolf packs howled at night
February Snow Moon Heaviest snowfalls in the middle of winter
March Worm Moon Start of spring, as earthworms (and the robins that eat them!) began to appear
April Pink Moon An early spring flower called "moss pink" started to bloom
May Flower Moon Many types of flowers bloom in May
June Strawberry Moon Strawberries were ready to be picked and eaten
July Buck Moon

New antlers of buck deer, coated with velvety fur, began to form

August Sturgeon Moon Sturgeon, a large fish found in the Great Lakes, were easily caught at this time of year
September Harvest Moon Farmers could continue harvesting until after sunset by the light of the Harvest Moon
October Hunter's Moon Hunters tracked and killed prey by moonlight, gathering food for the coming winter
November Beaver Moon

Time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to make sure of a supply of warm winter furs

December Cold Moon The cold of winter sets in
Last modified October 17, 2005 by Randy Russell.

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