Weather Whys

Full moon names

What do the terms “harvest moon” and “hunter’s moon” mean? Naming full moons goes back to early American days when the Indians — mainly the Algonquin tribes of New England — tried to describe the full moons of their day, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University.

“Many of these names were either weather-related or tied in with seasonal conditions of the time,” he explains. “For example, a ‘harvest moon’ is the full moon that usually occurs in September, when the moon is so bright that that farmers could work late into the night. A ‘hunter’s moon’ was usually in October, when the deer were at their fattest, leaves were turning color and the temperatures were getting quite chilly.”

There are more names for the moon at other times of the year, he says. When the snows were deep in January, wolf packs would often howl near Indian villages, prompting the “full wolf moon,” the first full moon in January, McRoberts adds.


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