Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's in a Name?

Photo Credit:  Heather Ingram
There was such a lovely full moon the other night, I just had to write about the it and what the full moons are called.  Did you know that each one has it's own name?  I had often heard my Mom speak of the Harvest Moon - you've heard that one popularized in song, and the Hunter's Moon.

I never knew which was which, though, so I thought I'd find out and share that with you.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox. Although it usually occurs in September, about every four years or so it falls in October, and the latest the Harvest Moon can occur is October 7.  Most full moons rise around 50 minutes later each night, but the Harvest Moon is only 20-30 minutes later.  This would allow the farmers more light to gather their harvest, hence the name, Harvest Moon.  When the Harvest Moon falls on the Autumnal Equinox, it is called a Super Harvest Moon.  This occurred this year, and was the first one since 1991.

The Hunter's Moon is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon.  This full moon is named such because it's light allows hunters to track their prey.  In the days of old, this was necessary to put aside food for winter when the snows came, and the birds and animals were less plentiful.

November's moon is often called the Beaver Moon because this was the time to set beaver traps, ensuring a good supply of furs for winter.  Again, this dates back to the days of trappers and mountain men. 

December's moon is known by several names, the Cold Moon or the Long Night Moon.   It is aptly named as Cold Moon for the winter's cold temperatures, and Long Night Moon for long stretch of darkness over the winter night.  This moon is also visible for a long period of time each night.  It's high trajectory is due to the fact it is opposite a low sun.

Full moons are always lovely to behold, and now we know a bit more about that big glowing orb that casts it's light upon our darkened earth.  Talon, a fellow blogger, captured the beauty of the full moon this past weekend. 


  1. The moon was lovely. And the names of the moons have always fascinated me...tied to the seasons or to folklore or the activities of life. There's something comforting about the moon's cycles, isn't there? I'm glad you enjoyed my shot, Teresa. I think Heather's capture is gorgeous!

  2. The full moon shot is beautiful and thanks for the info on the different moons. I've heard of the different names, but didn't ever really have an explanation before. Thanks!

  3. Hi Linda .. love the story about the Harvest Moon .. I wrote about the Blue Moon we had at the beginning of the year .. but you put extra info here about the Harvest Moon .. mine was a little more eclectic!

    Love this and the photos ..both here and over at Talon's ...

    Happy Thanksgiving .. Hilary

  4. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Talon- I enjoyed learning about the names. Maybe this will be a series, and I'll do the other months throughout the year.

    Linda- I'd been hearing those names for years, and now I know which name goes with which month and more importantly, why.

    Hilary- Thanks, it was a fun one to write. I was inspired when we were out Saturday night. We were at a friend's, and there were no street lights or city lights close by, and the moonlight was just beautiful.

  5. Enjoy reading your etymology articles. Found you on Expose your Blog.

  6. Fruey- Thanks so much for stopping by. I find these things interesting, and thought maybe others would too.

  7. Linda,

    Thank you for sharing this information about moons. I have always loved the moon! Now, I'll have a better appreciation of the full moons and their timing. I'll be looking for the "Cold Moon"


  8. Sara- I'm glad you found this interesting. I may do more posts on the full moons. Each one has its own name(s).

    You can look for the "cold moon" on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice.


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