The Worm Moon of March

The March full moon for 2010 will be Tuesday the 30th. Though are always a number of names for each of the full moons, one odd name for this moon is the Worm Moon. That’s not the most romantic of full moon names.

worm castsThis last full moon of winter was known as the Worm Moon because as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear in the soil. You probably can find them in your lawn. Those casts also mark the return of the robins.

In the land of the most northern tribes where this moon did not coincide with the thaw, this Moon was called the Full Crow Moon. It was a time when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. Other names include the Full Crust Moon, so named because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

Remember, the full moons as named by the Native Americans do not coincide with the months of our calendar. This year, for example, the last moon of winter would have been in February. This month’s moon occurs 10 days after the Vernal Equinox of Spring. I doubt that most of us who live in the top half of the Northern hemisphere considered the February full moon this year as the end of winter! So, using this month’s moon as the end of winter actually makes more sense to most of us than the calendar date for the beginning of spring.

One name that was more popular with the colonists was the Full Sap Moon, because it marked the time of tapping maple trees.

Many settlers carried a European tradition to the new world and called it the Lenten Moon. This is a name that varies year to year based on the calendar. The Lenten Moon would be the last moon on or before March 21, so it would not apply in 2010.

The Egg Moon is a name for the full moon before Easter. This is the name associated with the first moon after March 21. The Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. (This year that is April 4th.)

The Egg Moon is both a time of egg laying and associated with the Easter holiday. These robin’s eggs certainly look like the colored eggs of the commercialized easter celebration.

Why Egg Moon? With the longer days, hens are laying more eggs. At least on the old-fashioned family farm (not on factory farms that artificially alter the days and nights), hens lay fewer eggs during the winter when days are short. Many wild bird species also lay their eggs in the early spring, so that the young have the longest possible time to prepare for winter and migrations.

Eggs have long also been a symbol of spring, regeneration, rebirth in many cultures. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king. At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Passover begins today at sundown.

The pre-Christian Saxons had a spring goddess called Eostre, whose feast was held on the Vernal Equinox, around 21 March. Her animal was the spring hare (rabbit), so some believe that Eostre’s association with eggs and hares, combined with the rebirth of the land in spring was adapted for the Christian Easter and these traditions continue today.

The name of the March moon, as well as all the full moons, is not fixed with only one name. I found all of these names online (though I did not find many explanations or origins): Chaste Moon, Strong Wind Moon, Chaste Moon, Moon of Wakening, Light Snow Moon, Flower Time Moon, Cactus Blossom Moon, Earth Cracks Moon, Rust Moon, Moon when Eyes are Sore from Bright Snow, Spring Moon, Strawberry Moon, Whispering Wind Moon, Windy Moon, Death Moon, Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon, Big Famine Moon

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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