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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  earthsky.org 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.

 

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strawberriesToday’s Full Moon slipped into place at 12:21 pm behind rain and clouds here in Paradelle.  It beneath the horizon and under my feet but, like tonight, it’s still out there, hidden like a New Moon.

If you looking up at it tonight (or tomorrow), look for it grouped with the planet Saturn and star Antares in the eastern sky at dusk and nightfall.

As Earth turns, Saturn and Antares will move westward across the nighttime sky and the threesome will climb highest tonight around midnight.

If the clouds clear, I will see them low in the west at dawn.

A Rose MoonIn North America, we commonly call the June full moon the Strawberry Moon.

Though the Full Moon might appear today, or any month, to be reddish like a rose or strawberry, or amber like honey and mead, those names are related more to nature.

We have used the term “honeymoon” to connect to weddings going back to  1552. June once was the most popular month for marriages. Apparently, that has changed to August and September.  There was a Romantic notion that the first month of marriage was the sweetest, and that a marriage is like the changes phases of the Moon. The Full Moon was viewed as analogous to the wedding.

The Strawberry Moon was so named for that first crop of that ripening fruit. In Europe, where strawberries are not a native fruit, this moon was often called the Rose Moon since they also had first blooms at this time.

ChaucerMead_braggot_Some American Indian tribes knew this as the Green Corn Moon because it was the time of the first signs of the “corn in tassel.” It meant the start of preparations for the upcoming festivals in the growing season.

American colonists ancestors in Britain may have known it as the Mead or Honey Full Moon echoing back to medieval times. Those names are also associated with Druids and pagans. Beehives would be full of honey from the heavy pollen of spring and that led to the mead (honey wine) believed to have been discovered by Irish monks during medieval times.

Mead has a reputation for enhancing virility and fertility and acting as an aphrodisiac. Some etymologists say the term “honeymoon” came from the Irish tradition of newlyweds drinking honey wine every day for one lunar month after their weddings and so it found its way into Irish wedding ceremonies.

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.

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