Full Moon meaning: What is the meaning behind the Beaver Moon’s name?

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The penultimate Full Moon of 2020 will peak early on Monday, November 30. The 11th Full of the year is traditionally known as the Beaver Moon – a name linked to Native American traditions. But the Full Moon also goes by many more names, such as the Cold Moon, Frost Moon or the Child Moon.

When is the Full Beaver Moon this year?

The Full Moon will peak in brightness on Monday at about 9.22am GMT (4.22am EST).

At that moment, the Moon will find itself exactly 180-degrees from the Sun.

And although astronomically speaking a Full Moon only lasts for a brief moment, it will appear full to the naked eye for three nights centred on the peak.

Gordon Johnston from the US space agency NASA said: “The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Saturday night through Tuesday morning.”

What is the meaning behind the Beaver Moon’s name?

Although this Full Moon is known by many names, the Beaver Moon sticks out the most.

According to US folklore, the name originates in the time-keeping traditions of Native Americans tribes.

The Moon’s full phases every month would be named after noticeable changes in the landscape or wildlife.

The Sturgeon Moon in August, for example, is said to be named this way because sturgeon fish are typically caught this time of the year in the Great Five Lakes – Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

In this particular case, the Beaver Moon is believed to be named after beaver preparing their lairs for the cold winter ahead.

Mr Johnston said: “Going by season, as the last Full Moon of the autumn the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States called this Moon the Cold Moon, due to the long, cold nights.

“Other names were the Frost Moon or the Winter Moon, for the frosts as winter nears.

“Going by month, this would be the Beaver Moon and the Full Moon after next would be the Cold Moon.”

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The Beaver Moon is also known as the Oak Moon as it is the Full Moon before the winter solstice.

This year, the winter solstice falls on the afternoon of Monday, December 21.

This name is believed to originate in ancient druid traditions of harvesting mistletoe from oak trees.

Mr Johnston said: “The term ‘druid’ may derive from the Proto-Indo-European roots for ‘oak’ and ‘to see,’ suggesting the term means ‘oak knower’ or ‘oak seer’.

“Europeans also called this the Moon before Yule, a 3-day winter solstice festival.

“In the 10th Century King Haakon I associated Yule with Christmas as part of the Christianization of Norway, and this association spread throughout Europe.

“Some sources use these names for the Full Moon in December, even if it occurs after Yule and the winter solstice.”

The Beaver Moon also falls in the middle of Kislev, the ninth month of the lunisolar Hebrew calendar.

In the Islamic year, this Full Moon falls near the middle of the fourth month, Rabi’ al-Thani.

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