Everyone is going wild over the appearance of the so-called Strawberry Moon in the night sky. But in fact, every month when the Full Moon rises again, it’s given a new name.
Of course, we’ve forgotten these names, which is why the Internet has fallen in love with the idea of it looking like Strawberry as the month of June begins.
News media all over the country reported on the Strawberry Moon yesterday, giving hot tips on where to see it and what to do while you enjoy the sight: Have a picnic? Kiss your sweetheart? Drink some wine?
According to AL.com, the big Strawberry in the sky hit peak fullness last night, but it could remain for several more nights since it’ll stay in its spot right across from the sun.
Apparently, its “strawberry” tinge comes from its position right at the horizon, which colors it amber and makes it a bit bigger.
Naming the moon is an old practice, one that began in the U.S. with Native Americans. They gave a name to each moon in accordance with what happened in the natural world at that time.
Think of it as a giant, celestial notification, but in the heavens and not on your iPhone. When the harvest moon rises, for instance, that’s the lunar reminder for you to harvest squash.
— UTV (@utv) June 3, 2015
— Paul (@equinox_blue) June 3, 2015
— AmericasMostHaunted (@amhaunted) June 3, 2015
What a great pic of the strawberry moon over Denver last night from viewer Steve Hirsch. pic.twitter.com/AivHlfr174
— Tak Landrock FOX31 (@TakLandrock) June 3, 2015
— Mark Tarello (@mark_tarello) June 3, 2015
These ancient nicknames — most of them poetic, some of them awkward-sounding — are fairly consistent tribe to tribe, but the ones we know today come mostly from Natives from New England and those out west, Space.com explained. When the Europeans showed up, they named the moon whatever they felt like.
These names also remind us that back before the days of television, smart phones, and the Internet, humankind was as in tune to nature as it is to memes and YouTube videos today. Somehow, understanding the flow of nature seems a bit more of a useful skill.
So, besides the Strawberry moon and its accompanying hoopla, what other aliases does the Full Moon lay claim to?
- January — Wolf: Think howling packs of wolves, deep snows, cold breath on the black night air.
- February — Snow or Hunger: For a time when the snow is at its thickest and hunting is much more difficult.
- March — Worm: It’s just what it sounds like. Now, the ground is softening and the earthworm comes back, inviting the robins, too. And that means spring. Since crows also show up in March to signal winter’s end, it’s named Crow as well. The best one, though, is Crust, which refers to the thaw and freeze cycles of spring.
- April — Pink, Sprouting Grass, Fish or Egg: This one is quite poetic, referring to spring blooms, the plentiful wild ground phlox among them. Fish come upstream to spawn in April, too.
- May — Flower: Another variation of “April showers bring May flowers,” perhaps. Also called Corn Planting or Milk.
- June — Strawberry: This actually marks the ripening of the strawberry, so get ready to make some shortcake.
- July — Buck: Buck get their new antlers, soft with velvety fur. Also called Thunder for the storms of midsummer. Also Hay.
- Blue Moon: You know the saying — “Once in a Blue Moon.” Well, this is where it comes from. Not so rare, however — two in a month happen every three years, roughly.
- August —Sturgeon: Better get your fishing pole toward the end of summer, especially if you live near the Great Lakes or Lake Champlain. The Green Corn and Grain are about ready, too.
- September — Harvest Moon: No, not the Neil Young song. This refers to a busy time of year, when everything is ready to pick.
- October — Hunter’s Moon: Sorry, vegetarians, this is when the leaves fall, making the forest clear enough to hunt.
- November — Beaver: This is when you need to get out your traps, cause it’s time to catch some beaver for your winter coat.
- December — Cold, Full Long Nights: Winter is descending, the nights are longer, and Christmas is just around the corner.
[Photo Courtesy CTV Twitter]