Lent is a religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations. It begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day.
Its traditional purpose is not so very different from other traditions and cultures which also view this very early spring moon as a time for penance, repentance, giving alms, atonement and self-denial.
For Christians, it leads into Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In the New Testament, this begins on Friday of Sorrows, followed by Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, and culminates with the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection.
I love word origins and the etymology of “lent” is an interesting one. In Latin the term quadragesima was used for this time from the original Greek Tessarakostē, meaning the “fortieth” day before Easter. That is seen in many languages such as the Spanish cuaresma, Portuguese quaresma, French carême, Italian quaresima, etc.
My father’s parents called this fasting time postní doba (Czech for “great fast”).
But in the late Middle Ages, the priests’ sermons began to transition away from being given in Latin (not the Mass itself though). The English word lent was adopted. It meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and comes from a Germanic root for “long” because in the spring the days are getting longer.
So, the Lenten Moon is the “Spring Moon”
The warming ground means that earthworm casts appear. That brings robins back to some places. Some 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.
It can also be seen as the Last Moon of Winter – which is how it feels this year for me in Paradelle.
In medieval England it was called the Chaste Moon. It was the Oak Moon in Celtic tradition for the tree god or king. Oak was considered to be the wood from which people were first created.
It has been called the Full Sap Moon and sometimes the Maple Moon for the maple syrup made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees.
Poet Emily Dickinson said that March is the month of anticipation and plenty of us are eagerly antcipating spring.
The name Windy Moon is also connected to this month’s full moon being that the changing temperatures often make it a blustery and unpredictable weather month. Crocuses and early flowering bulbs are just as likely to be covered with snow as with sunshine.
For much of the United States, this month certainly came in like a lion, and the hope is that it will go out like a lamb. Back in 2012 when I wrote about this full moon I said that it had been a very mild winter in Paradelle and much of the U.S. and that bulbs were blooming in my yard in mid-February.