Why do full moons have specific names?
A full moon occurs when the moon, Earth and sun are lined up, with the Earth in between the sun and moon. This lets us see the entire disc of the moon illuminated in reflected sunlight. While there are 12 full moons in 2019, some years have 13 because the full moon phase occurs every 29.53 days.
Many Native American cultures gave a name to each month's full moon based on seasonal factors. Naming the moons helped them keep track of the seasons, and was particularly important in regulating farming and hunting activities.
Not every tribe named full moons the same way, but colonial Americans adopted certain ones. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, "The Full Moon Names we use in the Almanac come from the Algonquin tribes who lived in regions from New England to Lake Superior." Over time, other regional influences have created a variety of full moon names, including the original Algonquin and other variations.
Editor's note: This file has been update since it was first published in 2016.