According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, early Native Americans kept track of time by observing the seasons and lunar months, although there was much variability. Each tribe that did name the full Moons (and/or lunar months) had its own naming preferences but one can make a rough, if not generalized, correlation between the Native American names for the full moons and our twelve month Gregorian calendar.
Many of you know that Peter and I took an online Night Photography class several years ago with a guy named Kent Weakley. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot, and one assignment was to "Shoot the Moon". We did it then and we've been doing it frequently ever since. You may also remember the "trick" we learned and that is if you want to get an original photo of the full moon in a landscape you should shoot the almost-full moon the day before it's truly full. On that day, every month, the moon will rise before the sun sets by about a half an hour, thus you can get the landscape and an apparently full moon together.
Here are just a few examples of moon shots obtained over the last five years with their assigned Native American names. All photos © Claudia Ward.
January - The Wolf Moon: This full Moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.
February - The Snow Moon: Usually the heaviest snows fall in February.
April - The Pink Moon: This full Moon heralded the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers.
May - The Flower Moon: Flowers spring forth in abundance this month.
June - The Strawberry Moon: The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries.
July - The Buck Moon: Bucks begin to grow new antlers at this time.
August - The Sturgeon Moon: Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon.
September - The Harvest: This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn.
October - The Hunter's Moon: This is the month when the leaves are falling and the game is fattened. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long winter ahead.
November - The Beaver Moon: For both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.
December - The Cold Moon: This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark.
Wondering why no photographs of The Buck (July) and Sturgeon (August) Moons? I, like everyone else, am outside with friends and family enjoying the long, warm days and evenings. Perhaps one day.