My earlier post about March weather coming “In like a lion, out like a lamb” was more about the current blurring of seasons due to the pandemic than about weather. But reading that post later got me thinking about the origin of that weather lore.
There are several March weather lore sayings I found:
So many mists in March you see / So many frosts in May will be.
A Peck of March-Dust, and a Shower in May / Makes the Corn green, and the Fields gay.
March many-Weathers rain’d and blow’d / But March grass never did good.
As far as the lion and lamb for the month, it seems obvious that March begins in winter (literally) and ends with spring astronomically. Of course, location changes all that. My end of March weather was still more lion than lamb.
So what is the origin of that march weather phrase? I found two possibilities.
The one I find most likely is an astronomical – or probably astrological – explanation. The constellation Leo is the rising sign in March, and by April it is Aries that is rising. Now Aries is a full-grown ram but I suppose “out like a kid” didn’t sound very good.
I also saw a religious explanation that said that Jesus arrives as the sacrificial lamb, but will return as the Lion of Judah. I don’t know that information too well and it sounds doubtful for weather lore.
As is often the case, the Moon looked full last night although it just became an official Full Moon as I hit the publish button on this post at 10:54 am ET. It will certainly look very full tonight.
This winter-into-spring moon is often called the Worm Moon, and last year I chose the name the name Earth Cracks Moon. The latter sounds rather ominous, but like the Worm Moon it refers to the heaving soil as we transition into spring with cold nights and warm days. That thawing ground will be marked in many areas with the earthworm casts that appear as they emerge. They are very attractive to another symbol of spring – worm-loving robins. The Full Crust Moon is another name that was used by some Indian tribes.
Although the wind in March is often quite blustery in some parts of the U.S., I optimistically chose the gentler Hopi name for this lunar occurrence of the Whispering Wind Moon. The Hopi tribe now primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Their name for this Full Moon is fitting for the tribe because Hopi is a shortened form of their autonym, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu which means “The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones.”
New World settlers called this last Full Moon of winter the Lenten Moon and also the Sap Moon. The latter name marks the time of tapping maple trees. The Lenten Moon marks the religious observance in the liturgical calendar that occurs during this lunar month. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.
As Lent is seen as the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial, it fit well with the non-religious view of starting the year anew for farmers, ranchers and those looking to do “spring cleaning” and get a fresh start.
There are more Indian names for the Full Moons than the Colonists used because there were many tribes in many locations and their names for the Moon phases were based on their local observations of nature. Some northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, because the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. Other names used by Native American Tribes: Rain (Diegueno). Bud Moon (Kiowa). Eagle Moon,Rain Moon (Cree). Green Moon (Pima). Deer Moon (Natchez). Moon of Winds (Celtic). Lizard Moon (San Juan). Death Moon (Neo-Pagan). Wind Strong Moon (Taos). Amaolikkervik Moon(Inuit). Little Frog Moon (Omaha). Little Spring Moon (Creek). Crane Moon (Potawatomi). Long Days moon (Wishram). Big Famine Moon (Choctaw). Moose Hunter Moon (Abenali). Whispering Wind Moon (Hopi). Little Spring Moon (Muscokee). Fish Moon (Colonial American). Snow Sore Eyes Moon(Dakota). Catching Fish Moon (Agonquin). Snow Crust Moon (Anishnaabe). Spring Moon (Passamaquoddy). Much Lateness Moon (Mohawk). Chaste Moon (Medieval English). Buffalo Calf moon (Arapaho, Sioux). Seed (Dark Janic), Plow Moon (Full Janic). Strawberry, Windy Moon, Lenten Moon (Cherokee). Worm Moon, Sugar Moon, Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon. (Algonquin).
Not all calendars, including our traditional Western calendar, follow the phases of the Moon. In the solar Hebrew calendar, the months change with the new Moon, so 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.
In the Islāmic calendar, the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon. Unlike the Hebrew calendar, the Islāmic calendar has no leap days or leap months to stay in sync with the seasons, and Islāmic holidays occur approximately 11 days earlier each solar year.
This month’s Full Moon comes early, on March 5th and this year I chose a Celtic name for it: Moon of the Winds. The Cherokee name for the March Full Moon is translated as a similar Windy Moon. For those southwestern people, their Anvyi is the first Full Moon of the new season and a traditional start of the new cycle of planting and a time when new council fires are made.
In past years, I have used some of its other names which are mostly derived from nature and animal behavior: Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon, Maple Moon.and Fish Moon. One name comes from religion: the Lenten Moon.
Some consider this the “last Full Moon of winter” but depending on when the April Full Moon arrives (this year early on the 4th) and where you live, next month’s Full Moon may not feel like spring to you. In 2013, the Full Moon was on the 27th and so spring did seem at hand in Paradelle. And March is the month that supposedly comes in “like a lion and out like a lamb” – another saying of weather lore that can vary is accuracy quite widely.
Most of the United States will experience some windy days this month as the temperature tends to vary and shift as fronts move across the continent.
Even Winnie-the-Pooh considered this a time to say “Oh what a blustery day! It must be Windsday again!” Hopefully, your Windsdays this month will not be as blustery as it was in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The March Full Moon occurs tonight for 2014, and this year I am writing about the Lenten Moon, which obviously comes from a particular religious connection to this time in the calendar.
Lent is a religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations. It begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day.
Its traditional purpose is not so very different from other traditions and cultures which also view this very early spring moon as a time for penance, repentance, giving alms, atonement and self-denial.
For Christians, it leads into Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In the New Testament, this begins on Friday of Sorrows, followed by Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, and culminates with the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection.
I love word origins and the etymology of “lent” is an interesting one. In Latin the term quadragesima was used for this time from the original Greek Tessarakostē, meaning the “fortieth” day before Easter. That is seen in many languages such as the Spanish cuaresma, Portuguese quaresma, French carême, Italian quaresima, etc.
My father’s parents called this fasting time postní doba (Czech for “great fast”).
But in the late Middle Ages, the priests’ sermons began to transition away from being given in Latin (not the Mass itself though). The English word lent was adopted. It meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and comes from a Germanic root for “long” because in the spring the days are getting longer.
So, the Lenten Moon is the “Spring Moon”
The warming ground means that earthworm casts appear. That brings robins back to some places. Some Native Americans called it both the Full Crow Moon for the cawing of crows that signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon for the noisy, crusted snow cover from the daily thawing and freezing.
It can also be seen as the Last Moon of Winter – which is how it feels this year for me in Paradelle.
In medieval England it was called the Chaste Moon. It was the Oak Moon in Celtic tradition for the tree god or king. Oak was considered to be the wood from which people were first created.
It has been called the Full Sap Moon and sometimes the Maple Moon for the maple syrup made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees.
Poet Emily Dickinson said that March is the month of anticipation and plenty of us are eagerly antcipating spring.
The name Windy Moon is also connected to this month’s full moon being that the changing temperatures often make it a blustery and unpredictable weather month. Crocuses and early flowering bulbs are just as likely to be covered with snow as with sunshine.
For much of the United States, this month certainly came in like a lion, and the hope is that it will go out like a lamb. Back in 2012 when I wrote about this full moon I said that it had been a very mild winter in Paradelle and much of the U.S. and that bulbs were blooming in my yard in mid-February.
The Moon was quite bright in Paradelle last night, but the Full Moon arrives on March 27 at 4:27 am around here and I’m sure it will wake me up.
I think many of us would agree with a Cherokee name for the March Full Moon – the Windy Moon, Anvyi, the first Moon of the new season. It is the traditional start of the new cycle of planting and a time when new council fires are made.
The figure used to portray this moon is Kanati, one of the many beings created by the “Apportioner,” Unethlana.
Kanati is “The Lucky Hunter” and is sometimes called First Man. He lives with his wife Selu (“Corn”) in the east where the sun rises, and their sons, the Twin Thunder Boys, live in the west.
These “helpers” were variously charged with the control of the life elements of the earth: air/earth/fire/water. Their domains are the sky, earth, stars and the Seven Levels of the universe.
Kanati has a magic cave forever stocked with game animals and Selu has a magic bowl that always contained corn. When their spying children undid their magic, Kanati and Selu were doomed to be mortals.
Some of the other seasonal names for this Moon are the Full Sap Moon, Oak Moon, Storm Moon, Seed Moon and Maple Moon.
The warming temperature and ground means that earthworm casts appear, and so the Worm Moon is another name. And those worms mean the appearance for some of us of the returning winged symbols of spring, robins.
Other Native Americans called this Crow Moon for the cawing of crows that signaled the end of winter, or the Crust Moon for the crusted snow cover from thawing and freezing cycles of this fickle month.
To earlier English speakers, this was sometimes known as the Lenten Moon. I only learned recently that in the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted. This word initially simply meant spring and lent was the name for the season. (Compare as in the German language lenz and Dutch lente) from the Germanic root for “long” because in the spring the days visibly became longer.
As a child, my father taught me in the garden that certain seeds and plants were safe to put in the ground when the oak tree had leaves that looked like a mouse’s ear. I would have accepted the name Oak Moon for that reason. But it actually goes back to the Celtic oak tree god or king. Oak was considered to be the wood from which people were first created.
Thinking of this as a Windy Moon actually turns me back to reading as a child and then again to my own children about Pooh bear and his blustery day.
Some March days are kite-flying weather. Some days are for the garden. Sometimes a coat, sometimes a sweater, sometimes only a shirt.
March is an uncertain month that can have crocuses and early flowering bulbs covered with snow.
We say if the month comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. We had a lion entry in Paradelle, so I hope the lamb arrives for Easter.
Depending on the weather (and ignoring the “officialness” of the equinox), you can think of this as the last Full Moon of winter or the first of spring. I’ll opt for the first of spring and on this windy day, I plan to go to my own thoughtful spot and be somewhat thoughtful.