Pink Moon (Full Moon March 2008)

Our full moon this month goes by the name of the Full Pink Moon (according to the seasonal method) or the Full Worm Moon (according to the monthly method — see Full Moon Names: Rewilding your calendar for an explanation of the different methods.)

The Farmer’s Almanac has this to say about our moon this month:

Pink Moon – Seasonal method

This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

Worm Moon – Monthly method

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

Personally, I like to think of the “pink” for this moon referring to the beautiful, little blooms on the red dead nettles that spring up in my lawn.

This moon can also go by the name of Paschal Moon, regardless of whether you go by the monthly or seasonal method, because it comes as the first full moon after the spring equinox.  The term Paschal refers to the Easter holiday and to the Jewish feast of Passover (Pasach in Hebrew) which precipitated Jesus’s presence in Jerusalem where he suffered the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection which Christians celebrate at Easter.

I apologize for the Christian-centric focus of my explanation, but as the dates for the Christian holiday of Easter and the Jewish holiday of Passover derive from different calendar systems, and I only have knowledge of the Christian dating system, I will defer from making more than a passing reference to the Jewish holiday.

The western church celebrates Easter on a roughly lunar basis, calculating its date as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox[1] — which explains why Easter never falls on the same date from year to year and even migrates between March and April.

Since today’s full moon falls on the day after the Equinox, it also makes for one of the earliest occurrences possible for the Easter holiday.

As you may know, Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20).

This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here are the facts:

The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you’re 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).

The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year![2]

The movement of the Easter holiday within the calendar year makes a perfect example of how the lunar and solar calendars align — or don’t align, rather.  The moon’s movement around the earth and the earth’s movement around the sun don’t operate by meshing gears, so we cannot expect clock-like precision between the two.  Some Native American groups had complex systems for handling the different systems (see Appendix D of Charles Mann’s 1491 for an excellent explanation of the Mesoamerican calendar which Mann describes as “both more complex and more accurate than the European calendars of the same period.”)

So keep in mind that in a world without paper calendars hanging on our walls, we can still mark the seasons by the full moons, but such a system will not mesh perfectly with the solar calendar that marks the seasons with solstices and equinoxes.  The interaction between the two will look as sloppy as the placement of Easter in our current system.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Wage Slavery « Pink Moon (Full Moon March 2008) […]

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