A Year’s Weather Predicted by Twelve Days of January

Whatever the weather is like the first twelve days of January is supposed to indicate what the weather will be like for the next 12 solar months. Each day equals one month in succession. So, January 6 would predict June’s weather. This is one weather lore predictor that is quite extreme and wholly unscientific – but perhaps fun.

Of course, January would have been the time to pay attention, so I guess I should repost this in January 2022, but you can find your local weather history online since I doubt that anyone recalls what the weather was like in January. You can find information at sites like weather.com

For New Jersey, I went to njweather.org for a recap on this past January’s weather just to see if there was any correlation to this month. I also looked at  accuweather.com which told me that on January 6 it was a high of 43 and a low of 32 degrees. That is a normal range for a Jersey January and June was an average Jersey June – which means days in the 70s, 80s and the 90s. It’s a mixed month.

I don’t really think of weather in collective terms like months or even the year. I am more likely to remark about or remember a week. “It was a rainy week.” 
 

Though I occasionally write here about weather lore, I don’t take it very seriously. It is fun and sometimes it happens to match the actual weather, which is why these kinds of beliefs linger on. 

A snowy February is supposed to bring a good spring and a mild month means stormy weather for the new season. Compare that to prognosticating groundhogs and other critters.

In any season, a ring around the Moon is supposed to mean precipitation is coming.

If the Moon shows a silver shield, be not afraid to reap your field. I’m not sure what a silver shield on the Moon means – and I have no fields to harvest – so that one I can ignore. 

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!

A Full Moon for the Wolf Month

wolf-moon-pixabay

Tomorrow, January 12, the Moon will be full for this new month in the new year of 2017. This Wolf Moon is full at 6:34 ET for me.

The Scottish Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, means “wolf month” and I believe this is the origin for the name, but Native Americans often used that name without any knowledge of it being used in other parts of the world. Many American full moon names follow names that tribes gave to the Full Moons hundreds of years ago when they kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon.

“January” is a word that comes from the Roman god Janus. Janus had two faces and ruled over beginnings and endings and the past and the future. The ancient Romans believed this was a time to put aside the old, outdated parts of your life. It is a time to plans for new and better conditions, and that seems to have continued in our tradition of having new year’s resolutions.

American Indians named this moon for the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside their villages in the heart of winter.  Remember that for these northern and eastern tribes the Full Moon marked the beginning of a period (what we call a month), not a day. The period from this January moon until the next February moon is usually the toughest part of winter weather in those areas.

My own Wolf Moon posts over the life of this blog are always popular posts and I think it is the wolf that draws in readers.

wolf-pixabay

When Americans think of a “wolf,” we are seeing the gray wolf (Canis lupus). This species is also known as the timber wolf or western wolf. It is native to the wilderness and remote areas of Eurasia and North America.

It is still a controversial species. It is threatened and endangered in some areas and hated and hunted in other areas because it preys on livestock. The gray wolf is one of the world’s best known and well researched animals.

Though it was hunted because of its attacks on livestock, in native societies it was revered.

It rarely attacks humans and most reported cases have been attributed to animals suffering from rabies. Wolves try to live away from people, and generally have developed a fear of humans.

Part of our fascination with wolves probably is tied to our love for dogs. The domestic dog is now the most widely abundant large carnivore and is a descendant from one of the now-extinct wolf populations.

The gray wolf is a social animal. Their social unit is a mated pair, accompanied by the pair’s adult offspring. The average wolf pack consists of a family of 5–11 animals (1–2 adults, 3–6 juveniles and 1–3 yearlings) Sometimes two or three such families live together and exceptionally large packs consisting of 42 wolves have been studied.

They are also highly territorial animals. They generally establish territories far larger than they require to survive in order to assure a steady supply of prey. Native Americans respected that wolves guarded their territory.

The gray wolf is generally monogamous, with mated pairs usually remaining together for life. Upon the death of one mated wolf, pairs are quickly re-established. Since males often predominate in any given wolf population, unpaired females are a rarity.

I have heard the howling of wolves and coyotes in the wild and those sounds are very moving. Depending on the setting and your situation, it can trigger fear or admiration. It seems to me to connect with something ancient and primal inside of us.

wolf howling wikimedia

Howling at the Full Wolf Moon

wolf snow wikimedia

If the cold and deep snows of midwinter have come to your area, you may identify with the traditional name for the January Full Moon of Wolf Moon.  Adapted from American Indian names for this Full Moon, it came from the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside villages.

Here in Paradelle, it’s snowing hard and I doubt that the Moon will be visible tonight. The blizzard winds are howling around the house, but that is as close as we’ll get to wolves.

This month’s moon is also known as the Old Moon, Moon After Yule, and Snow Moon.

Though many ancient civilizations connect wolves with the moon, scientists have found no connection between the phases of the moon and wolf howling.

Hecate, Greek goddess of the moon, kept the company of dogs, as did Diana, Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt. In Norse mythology, there is the tale of a pair of wolves that chase the moon and sun to summon night and day. The American Seneca tribes believe that a wolf sung the moon into existence.

Wolves do howl more at night because they’re nocturnal and they howl up to the stars and moon because the sound carries farther then.

But perhaps you live where there isn’t snow, wolves or even winter. According to EarthSky.org, in the Southern Hemisphere the names for this January moon are Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon. I think they just flipped the names we usually use in other seasons. I can’t believe that people in South America call any moon the Buck Moon.

Any readers outside the United States: What do you call the Full Moons in your country?

 

Do You Feel Closer to the Sun Than Yesterday?

aphelion-perihelion-earth
Before dawn this morning (from my North American longitude) the Earth reached its closest point to the sun for this year. Did you feel it?  No, but this annual event (this time at 6:36 UTC or 01:36 a.m. EST) is called perihelion from the Greek roots peri (near) and helios (sun).

Our planet gets closest to the sun every year in early January. Obviously, that doesn’t make it any warmer in the Northern Hemisphere, and we aren’t any cooler in early July when the aphelion occurs and we are farthest away from the sun. I’ll bet this confused the ancients (and some modern readers) if they knew it was occurring, though the Southern Hemisphere ancients must have thought it made perfect sense.

Earth is about 5 million kilometers (3 million miles) closer to the sun in early January than it will be in early July. That sounds like a big difference, but it’s not really significant enough to cause temperature changes across the planet and it doesn’t explain the seasons.

Mostly, it is the tilt of our planet’s axis that creates winter and summer. In winter, your hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and in summer it is tilted toward the sun. Those days of maximum tilt toward or away from the sun are the December and June solstices.

There’s a page on perihelion and aphelion and all the upcoming dates at astropixels.com if you want more information.

Two Origins of the Wolf Moon

The Full Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2013, will be bright tonight (January 26) at 11:38 p.m. EST.

Many American Full Moon names come from Native American tribes of a few hundred years ago who lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring Full Moon, often based on what they were seeing in nature year after year.

Some tribes named the first moon of the year the Full Wolf Moon if they lived in an area where wolf packs might have howled hungrily outside their villages in the heart of winter. It is also called the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule.

But I did find other sources that say that Wolf Moon comes from the ancient Scottish Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, which means “wolf month.”

Romancing the Bee

full wolf moon

The Full Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2013, will light up the night sky tonight (Jan. 26) at 11:38 p.m. EST.

According the the Farmers Almanac, full moon names date back to Native American tribes of a few hundred years ago who lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon.

The Farmers Almanac states that Indians named the first moon of the year the Full Wolf Moon because of the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside their villages in the heart of winter.  It is also called the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule.

Other sources disagree and allege that “Full Wolf Moon” comes from the ancient Scottish Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, which means “wolf month”.

Whatever the derivation, few would disagree that Full Wolf Moon is…

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