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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.
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.
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.
The March full moon for 2010 will be Tuesday the 30th. Though are always a number of names for each of the full moons, one odd name for this moon is the Worm Moon. That’s not the most romantic of full moon names.
This last full moon of winter was known as the Worm Moon because as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear in the soil. You probably can find them in your lawn. Those casts also mark the return of the robins.
In the land of the most northern tribes where this moon did not coincide with the thaw, this Moon was called the Full Crow Moon. It was a time when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. Other names include the Full Crust Moon, so named because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.
Remember, the full moons as named by the Native Americans do not coincide with the months of our calendar. This year, for example, the last moon of winter would have been in February. This month’s moon occurs 10 days after the Vernal Equinox of Spring. I doubt that most of us who live in the top half of the Northern hemisphere considered the February full moon this year as the end of winter! So, using this month’s moon as the end of winter actually makes more sense to most of us than the calendar date for the beginning of spring.
One name that was more popular with the colonists was the Full Sap Moon, because it marked the time of tapping maple trees.
Many settlers carried a European tradition to the new world and called it the Lenten Moon. This is a name that varies year to year based on the calendar. The Lenten Moon would be the last moon on or before March 21, so it would not apply in 2010.
The Egg Moon is a name for the full moon before Easter. This is the name associated with the first moon after March 21. The Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. (This year that is April 4th.)
Why Egg Moon? With the longer days, hens are laying more eggs. At least on the old-fashioned family farm (not on factory farms that artificially alter the days and nights), hens lay fewer eggs during the winter when days are short. Many wild bird species also lay their eggs in the early spring, so that the young have the longest possible time to prepare for winter and migrations.
Eggs have long also been a symbol of spring, regeneration, rebirth in many cultures. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king. At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. Passover begins today at sundown.
The pre-Christian Saxons had a spring goddess called Eostre, whose feast was held on the Vernal Equinox, around 21 March. Her animal was the spring hare (rabbit), so some believe that Eostre’s association with eggs and hares, combined with the rebirth of the land in spring was adapted for the Christian Easter and these traditions continue today.
The name of the March moon, as well as all the full moons, is not fixed with only one name. I found all of these names online (though I did not find many explanations or origins): Chaste Moon, Strong Wind Moon, Chaste Moon, Moon of Wakening, Light Snow Moon, Flower Time Moon, Cactus Blossom Moon, Earth Cracks Moon, Rust Moon, Moon when Eyes are Sore from Bright Snow, Spring Moon, Strawberry Moon, Whispering Wind Moon, Windy Moon, Death Moon, Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon, Big Famine Moon