A Waxing Crescent Moon to Start a Lunar Month

Full Moons get the most attention when it comes to lunar phases. But the New Moon (or Dark Moon) is also important in some cultures, and the waxing and waning phases and the two Crescent Moons also have beliefs attached to them.

In Cornwall, if a boy was born during a waning Moon, they said that the next birth would be a girl and both would be blessed.

In the lore of the Moon, it was said that to see the crescent Moon over the right shoulder was considered lucky, but seeing it over the left shoulder was unlucky. Since tonight’s Moon phase is a Waxing Crescent, be sure to look over your right shoulder tonight.

A Waxing Crescent is the first phase after the New Moon. This is actually an optimal time to see the features of the moon’s surface. During this phase, the Moon can be seen in the western sky after the Sun goes below the horizon. Right now, the Moon is close to the sun in the sky and mostly dark except for the right edge which becomes brighter as the days pass. The next phase is the First Quarter when it is  50% illuminated.

moon phases

Muslims around the globe are observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins for most on either around  April 12 or 13 in 2021 when it was a Waxing Crescent Moon phase. That is the phase that looks like a  )  while the Waning Crescent looks like a  .

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of their holy book, the Quran, to Muhammad according to Islamic belief.

Since the Islamic calendar adheres to the lunar calendar of 12 months rather than the Gregorian calendar, a solar calendar used in the Western part of the globe, every month starts as the new crescent moon emerges. It continues for 29 or 30 days. Each year, this makes Ramadan start 10 to 12 days earlier. Their 12-month lunar year has a total of 354 or 355 days or is 11 days shorter than the seasonal year on which the Gregorian calendar is based.

Calendars: Solar and Lunar

I do a lot of posts that touch upon the calendar – seasons, celebrations, holidays, the Moon, astronomical occurrences. Most of the time I am in “our calendar” – the Gregorian calendar. Today, it is the internationally accepted civil calendar and is also known as the “Western calendar” or “Christian calendar”. It was named after the man who first introduced it in February 1582: Pope Gregory XIII.

It is a solar calendar based on a 365-day common year divided into 12 months of irregular lengths. 11 months have either 30 or 31 days, while February has only 28 days during the common year. (Nearly every 4 years is a Leap Year, when one extra – or intercalary – day is added on 29 February.)

The Gregorian calendar reformed the Julian calendar because the Julian calendar introduced an error of 1 day every 128 years. The introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for a realignment with astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices.

However this switch from Julian to Gregorian probably was pretty odd to folks back in 1582 in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain where it was first adopted. This “Gregorian reform” meant a number of days had to be dropped. They dropped 10 days in October 1582. It changed the rules to determine the date of Easter, and for calculating Leap Years.

Still, the Gregorian calendar is not the only one.

The Hebrew calendar has months that change with the new Moon, and the full Moons fall in the middle of the month.

A solar year is about 11 days longer than twelve lunar months, so to keep holidays tied to their seasons, the Hebrew calendar occasionally repeats the month of Adar.

The Islāmic calendar is also lunar. The months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon.

Unlike the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendars, the Islāmic calendar has no leap days or leap months to stay in sync with the seasons, so Islāmic holidays occur approximately 11 days earlier each solar year.

The waxing crescent Moon
The waxing crescent Moon