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The name Strawberry Moon was used by all the Algonquin tribes for the June Full Moon that arrived today. The most popular name in Europe was the Rose Moon. (Strawberries are not native to Europe.) Both names reference the fairly short seasons for harvesting the berries and the blooms this month.  American Indians tended to use the more practical names of foods rather than the more decorative blooms.

This is the month when summer arrives in the North, the days are longer and the sunsets are later.  If you look up to the Full Moon tonight, it will be near the planet Saturn and the star Antares in the eastern sky at dusk and nightfall. As our planet turns, the three of them will move westward and climb highest around midnight, and be low in the west at dawn.

It would be Romantic to think that a rose or strawberry moon would be reddish in color, but when the Moon appears colored it is about atmospheric conditions and not the Moon itself and can occur throughout the year.

My youngest son was married this month and June has been traditionally a popular month to wed. The belief that the first month of marriage is the sweetest, gave us a “honeymoon.” Some compared marriage to the phases of the Moon – changing from the Full Moon of the marriage day and changing constantly, sometimes fuller, sometimes less.

The Brits who came to the New World may have known this as the Mead or Honey Full Moon which was a name more commonly used in Europe in medieval times. The heavy pollen of spring did make hives full of honey, and that led to the honey wine (mead) that was discovered by Irish monks during medieval times.

The mead acquired a reputation for enhancing virility and fertility and acting as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps, this is the true etymology of the “honeymoon.” I read that there had been an Irish tradition for newlyweds to drink honey wine every day for that first month of marriage.

The combination of strawberries, roses and honey are not a bad threesome for a romantic night, even if you are far from any true honeymoon.

NOTE: I am reminded by that the bright reddish “star” near the Moon these nights is Mars, now very bright at the midpoint between your local sunset and midnight every night, and that by the month’s end, Mars will exceed the brilliance of Saturn by some 15 times.


Tonight is Midsummer Night’s Eve, even though for those of us in the Northern hemisphere summer has only just started.

The origin of the naming of this as midsummer comes from Old English and we need to acknowledge that the old Anglo-Saxon calendar had only two seasons, summer and winter.

Dividing the year in half for a “Midsummer’s Day” would have put the day near the middle of summer in June.  It probably wasn’t an exact day marked universally. Summer started in mid-April in the old Icelandic calendar and on the Anglo-Saxon calendar, it was marked as whenever the full moon appeared.

The marking of midsummer may have varied but the celebration of Saint John’s Eve on this day was set by the church.  Saint John is the patron saint of beekeepers.

This is a time when after many spring flowers and clover have bloomed, the hives are full of honey. One name given to this month’s full moon was the Mead Moon because much of that honey was fermented to make the honey wine called mead.

This is also one of the origin stories for the word “honeymoon” and so it became known as a time for lovers.

That is why Shakespeare set his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream on this night.The night also gained a reputation as a time of magic when the fairy kingdom would play pranks on people.

The tale is of two young couples who wander into a magical forest outside Athens full of fairies who play with the lovers’ emotions. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” wrote Shakespeare, but being a comedy, things do eventually work out for the lovers.

An old Swedish proverb says, “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.

Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey. The June or July full moon was sometimes called the Honey or Mead Moon because it was the time when hives were heavy with honey, and so a time to make mead.

A honey wine, called mead, is one of the world’s oldest fermented beverages—maybe the oldest. It dates back thousands of years, archeological findings suggest.  Mead is known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, although its origins are lost in prehistory.  Claude Lévi-Strauss makes a case that the invention of mead was the marker of the passage “from nature to culture.”

Though honey is 84 to 86 percent sugar by volume (compared to 14 to 18 percent for grapes), not all mead is dessert wine. Depending on how much water is mixed with the honey before yeast is added, triggering fermentation, mead can be sweet, semi-sweet or dry. (The more water, the drier the mead.) It can vary in color from pale gold to dark ruby, in alcohol from 8 to 18 percent by volume, and in flavor from delicate to robust.

In Norse mythology, the Mead of Poetry  is a mythical beverage that whoever “drinks becomes a skald or scholar” able to recite any information and solve any question. The drink is a metaphor for poetic inspiration, often associated with Odin the god of ‘possession’ via berserker rage or poetic inspiration. Mead was discovered by Irish monks during medieval times and it figures in both Gaelic poetry and Irish folklore.

In the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, the fearsome giant called Grendel, attacks the Danish king where he’s vulnerable, in his mead hall. In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the miller tells his lusty tale drunk on mead.

Mead was believed to enhance virility and fertility, while also contributing supposed aphrodisiac qualities. As a result, mead quickly found its way into Irish wedding ceremonies. Some historians and etymologists say the term “honeymoon” came from the Irish tradition of newlyweds drinking honey wine every day for one full moon (a month) after their weddings. Today, some Irish weddings still include a traditional Mead toast to the newlyweds.


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