Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow

snow trees moon

The Full Moon today, January 10, is most often called the Wolf Moon,  a name adapted from names different northern American Indian names for this Full Moon. The name references the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside villages this month.

In 2018,  there was a Blue Moon (a second full moon in one calendar month) and a total lunar eclipse and it was the third in a series of three Full Moons that were supermoons. Some of the world saw a “ring of fire” eclipse of the Sun on December 26, and exactly two weeks later there will be a Wolf Moon Eclipse. Unfortunately, it will not be visible in North America. It will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of Australia.

To the Zuni people, this Full Moon is Dayamcho yachunne, the Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow. Since the Zuni (Zuni: A:shiwi; formerly spelled Zuñi) are Native American Pueblo peoples native to the Zuni River valley in New Mexico. I think of that area, the interior Mountain West, as a semi-arid climate with hot summers. But the high altitude means cool nights as late as July there have been freezing temperatures. According to Wikpedia, that climate has winter nights cold enough that snow is common and sometimes heavy:

The current day Zuni are a Federally recognized tribe and most live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River in western New Mexico. The Zuni tribe lived in multi-level adobe houses.

According to a Zuni legend, it was Coyote’s fault that we have winter because he stole the sun and moon.

This Cold Moon (called Unolvtani in Cherokee celebrations) marked the start of the season for personal and ritual observance, fasting and personal purification. It was a time for families to prepare for the coming of the next season which will start with the Windy Moon in March. The tools for planting are repaired, and new ones are made. The ancestors are honored with the telling of stories about them to young ones.

Maybe the Rainbow Fish New Year’s Day Supermoon Will Herald a Super 2018

By a commonly accepted definition, a supermoon has to come within 225,027 miles (362,146 km) of Earth.  They are not that rare and happen every few months. The Full Moons January 1 and 31, 2018, count as supermoons, and we can call the January 31 Moon a Blue Moon (a second in the same month).

It is a rarer occurrence that the new year is bookended by Full Moons on the first and last day and that both are “supermoons.” That popularized term is used to describe a new or full moon that occurs at roughly the same time the moon is nearest Earth (perigee) in its monthly orbit.

This New Year’s Day Full Moon is most often called the Wolf Moon, which is not a name that feels optimistic.

Why even give the Full Moons names?  That’s simple to answer. From the ancients through many other groups, including the early Native Americans, months didn’t exist because they didn’t use a Julian or Gregorian calendar. People gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of the seasons and lunar months. Lunar calendars came into being and are still used. The Moon’s phases are easier to observe than solar movements, but they are more variable.

Lunar Calendar by Fernando de GorocicaOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Most of the Full Moon names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location, so names are often both cultural and geographically bound. Your “Snow Moon” may well be quite warm and snow-free. Some groups  counted four seasons a year while others counted five, and some defined a year as 12 moons, while others said there were 13. Colonial Americans adopted some of the Native American names and so they were written down and still survive.

For January, “Wolf Moon” was used in Europe as well as here in America, but other European names included Ice Moon and Old Moon. Still, I was searching for a more optimistic January Moon name after a personally and nationally tough 2017.

There is the Chinese Holiday Moon, the Moon After the Yule and the Celtic Quiet (Quite) Moon which all sound kinder. But the new name I settled on for this year’s post is from New Guinea – the Rainbow Fish Moon. That calendar does not follow our months but this is the name listed for January’s Full Moon.

I could not find why this little fish is associated with this time. Does it spawn now or appear in greater numbers? Anyone from New Guinea reading this post who can comment?

There is a children’s book, The Rainbow Fish, that is new to me but apparently a very popular book. It has eye-catching foil stamping  illustrations that glitter on every page. The story is  about a beautiful fish who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions and about individualism. Good messages, though it seems that has been interpreted differently by some.

The story was made into an animated television series of the same name.

And if you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, are you calling this the Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, or Mead Moon? Post a comment!