The March Full Moon for 2011 is today, the 19th.

There are plenty of names for this month’s Full Moon to choose from including the Full Worm Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon and Maple Moon.

Warming temperature and ground means that earthworm casts appear – and also those winged harbingers of spring, robins.

Native Americans called it both the Full Crow Moon for the cawing of crows that signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon for the noisy, crusted snow cover from the daily thawing and freezing.

In medieval England it was called the Chaste Moon. To the colonists, this was sometimes known as the Lenten Moon, and the last full Moon of winter.

The Oak moon was named for the Celtic tree god or king and at one time oak was considered to be the wood from which people were first created.

I like the name Full Sap Moon which refers to the maple syrup made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees. In the cold climate areas, these trees store starch in their stems and roots before the winter in the way that animals and humans store for the long winter. The sap’s starch is then converted to sugar and rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees are tapped and sap collected is concentrated by heating to the syrup we use.

Americans usually associate maple syrup with Vermont, but Quebec, Canada, produces most of the world’s supply.

What makes the name Full Sap Moon very American is that maple syrup was first collected and used by Native Americans and First Nations, and was later adopted by the European settlers. Production of maple syrup is one of only a few agricultural processes in North America that is not a European colonial import.

According to archaeological evidence, aboriginal peoples used “sweet water” or “sinzibuckwud” (meaning “drawn from trees”) as an energy source. It was being processed for its sugar content long before Europeans arrived in the Northeastern part of North America. Many aboriginal dishes replaced the salt Europeans used with maple sugar or syrup.

We know that Algonquins would use stone tools to make V-shaped incisions in tree trunks at the early spring thaw. Reeds or concave pieces of bark directed the sap into birch bark containers. The sap was concentrated by dropping hot cooking stones into the buckets, or by leaving them exposed to the cold temperatures overnight and disposing of the layer of ice which formed on top.

We commonly use it at breakfast on waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, and French toast, but it is also used as a baking ingredient, sweetener and flavoring agent. It may have the illusion of being healthier than sugar or corn syrup but sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup.

Poet Emily Dickinson said that March is the month of anticipation. Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere probably view this month as the anticipation of spring and the end of winter. The ancients believed that equinoxes like the spring one this month were sacred days of the year and a time to perform rituals and connect with the divine.

March in often described as a blustery month and it is time when the crocuses and early flowering bulbs are often covered with some snow.  The old weather saying is  “In like a lion, out like a lamb” in describing March weather.