The March Full Moon (march 5, this year) goes by many names including Windy Moon, Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon, Maple Moon and Fish Moon. As with the other months, most names are derived from observations of nature and animals in the area.
One name comes from religion: the Lenten Moon. Early American Christian settlers, often used this name for it. In some Christian denominations, Lent is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan.
The religious intention of Lent is preparation not only for the events linked to the Passion of Christ and Easter. many Christians associate the season with fasting or giving up something we desire. That practice had a practical purpose in times when the end of winter was a time of sparse supplies anyway.
Many of the Christian holidays were timed to coincide and co-opt pagan holidays. For example, the Resurrection of Jesus is connected to pagan spring seasonal celebrations.
The computation of when Easter falls is based on the old lunar calendar. In 725, Bede wrote, “The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter.” But that rule does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. For example, the astronomical equinox is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on 19, 20 or 21 March, while the ecclesiastical date is fixed by convention on 21 March.
The full moon before Easter is often known as the Egg Moon which has a seasonal connection in the laying of eggs by birds and also is carried over to Easter celebrations in the secular sense.
The Lenten Moon is considered to be the last moon of the winter season. Of course, this is all confused by the fact that Easter changes year to year – sometimes in March, sometimes in April. For 2015, Easter is later, falling on April 5.
Spring arrives this year on March 20.
The March Full Moon also comes early this year – also on the fifth day – and so it is unlikely to feel like the end of winter for most people in northern climes.
That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate anyway. An egg dance is a traditional Easter game in which eggs are laid on the ground and the goal is to dance among them without damaging them. As a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in spring, it was adopted by early Christians. The version of egg dancing depicted in the painting by Pieter Aertsen has participants rolling an egg out of a bowl while keeping within a circle drawn by chalk and then flipping the bowl to cover the egg. This had to be done with the feet without touching the other objects placed on the floor.