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May: Flower Moon

The Full Moon in May is known as the Flower Moon. Other names include the Corn Planting Moon, and the Milk Moon, while some named it the Hare Moon.

Lupine wildflowers above Park City, Utah.

Lupine wildflowers start to bloom in May.

©iStockphoto.com/johnnya123

In ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on.

For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the Northern Hemisphere seasons, and many of these names are very similar or identical.

Full Moon Names

Today, we use many of these ancient month names as Full Moon names. A common explanation is that Colonial Americans adopted many of the Native American names and incorporated them into the modern calendar.

However, it seems that it is a combination of Native American, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic month names which gave birth to the names commonly used for the Full Moon today.

Some years have 13 Full Moons, which makes one of them a Blue Moon, as it doesn't quite fit in with the traditional Full Moon naming system. However, this is not the only definition of a Blue Moon.

Wildflowers in Bloom

The Full Moon of May is known as Flower Moon to signify the flowers that bloom during this month. There is a myriad of wildflowers which bloom in May in the Northern Hemisphere, where these traditional Full Moon names originated. For example, many types of anemone, wild garlic, indigo, bluebells, lupine, sundrops, and violets, to name just a few. It is no wonder that the colorful displays these flowers create in nature have inspired people to name this time after them.

Other names for May's brightest Moon phase are Corn Planting Moon, Mother's Moon, and Milk Moon, from the Old English Rimilcemona which means Month of Three Milkings, when cows were milked three times a day. Some sources refer to it as Hare Moon, but this name is more common for the March Full Moon.

Topics: Moon, May, Calendar, History, Seasons, Months