I have to agree with Oscar Wilde who wrote, “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” At the beginning of each new year, as I fill in my blank calendar with birthdays, anniversaries and appointments, I also add the dates and names of every full moon. My interest in the moon is not as much scientific as it is poetic.
A full moon occurs when the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon so that the moon appears completely illuminated. This happens about once a month. I admit I have difficulty comprehending that whether the moon is waxing or waning it is not actually changing shape. That in itself is enough science to sufficiently blow my mind.
There is some debate about the scientific correlation between moon cycles and human behavior. As a teacher, I definitely saw an increase in wacky behavior during a full moon. Ask anyone who works directly with the public, and they will likely concur. It’s no coincidence the words lunacy and lunatic come from the Latin word for moon, but I’ll leave it to the experts to separate the myths from the reality. I only know having it noted on my calendar helps explain a lot.
Natural and social science aside, I prefer to think of the moon in the poetic way that has inspired art, music and literature through the ages. I can’t help but personify the moon as Emily Dickinson did when she wrote, “The Moon was but a Chin of Gold a night or two ago and now she turns her perfect face upon the world below.” Poet Carl Sandburg said, “The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.
The moon is featured in many songs, too. Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade, Andy William’s Moon River, and Van Morrison’s Moondance are just a few sweet tunes inspired by the mysterious moonlight. For years the nightly lullaby medley I sang as I tucked my children into bed always included, “Mr. Moon, moon, bright and shiny moon, won’t you please shine down on me.”
The moon has been a part of art throughout the history of civilization. From the ancient Greeks we have many depictions of Selene, the goddess of the moon. In fact, today a Selenophile is a person who is fond of or interested in the moon. Perhaps the most recognizable painting of the moon in modern Western art is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The vivid yellow moon against a swirling blue sky is said to be a symbolic representation of the artist’s view from his room in a mental asylum.
We all howl at the moon for different reasons. Whatever is your interest in the moon, here is a list of the dates and names of the full moons in 2023. Note there is one each month, plus two in August, which only happens in a blue moon! And if you’re wondering if that slivered bright orb is waxing or waning, recite Christina Rossetti’s poem, “O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east: Shine be increased; O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west: Wane, be at rest.”
January 6 – Full Wolf Moon
February 5 – Full Snow Moon
March 7 – Full Worm Moon
April 6 – Full Pink Moon
May 5 – Full Flower Moon
June 3 – Full Strawberry Moon
July 3 – Full Buck Moon
August 1 – Full Surgeon Moon
August 30 – Full Blue Moon
September 29 – Full Harvest Moon
October 28 – Full Hunter’s Moon
November 27 – Full Beaver Moon
December 26 – Full Cold Moon §
“I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos.”
~ Tom Hanks, actor