Moon and wolf - January full moon

The Wolf Moon: Hungry like the Wolf in the Depths of Winter

Full Moon Calendar

Full moons appear approximately every month and most years will have 12 full moons, but occasionally 13 full moons will appear in a single year. The additional moon is called a “blue moon” and can appear in any month. A “blue moon” is a rare event, hence the phrase “once in a blue moon”, and only occurs once every three years.

January – The Wolf Moon and the Howling Wolves of the North

The first full moon of the year is known to many Native Americans as the Wolf Moon. This January full moon rises during the early afternoon and can be seen all night, all over the world, if the weather is clear.

Why do they call it a Wolf Moon?

It’s believed that Native Americans, in the north east, named January’s full Moon the “Wolf Moon” because wolves were often seen howling with hunger and prowling in and around tribal encampments in late January. In the Sioux territory of the Black Hills of Dakota, as prey got scarce in January, large packs of of wolves would travel further to hunt, sometimes travelling over 30 miles a day.The Sioux name for the January full moon is the “wolves running together” moon, reflecting the fact that hunting packs became more noticeable in mid Winter. Neighbours of the Sioux, the Cheyenne, also witnessed the Winter running packs and called the December full moon the “when the wolves run together” moon.

Werewolves of Washington?

European settlers, from Italy, Scandinavia, Russia and the Balkans, familiar with wolves in their native land, are also believed to have shared the term with Native Americans. Belief in the association between wolves and the moon, and belief in werewolves created by the power of the full moon, were still common in rural Europe well into the first half of the 20th century. In remote parts of France, Germany and southern Italy, anyone sleeping outside in the open, at night, would cover their face with clothing or a blanket, believing that the light of the full moon could transform them into a wolf.In southern Italy, from Roman times onwards, various parts of a wolf were used in folk medicine, to treat muscular pain and throat problems. The wolf preparations were made, following ancient rituals, in the full moonlight averting one’s gaze away from the “eyes” of the moon.

The Big Cold Moon

Some tribes, like the Cherokee and the Mohawk, describe the January full moon as the “cold moon” or the “big cold moon”. Other Native American names for the January full moon include the “bear hunting moon” attributed to the Haida tribe of Alaska, “moon of life at its zenith” for the Hopi of Arizona and the “stay inside” moon for the Kalapuya of the north west.Some other names attributed to European migrants for the January full moon include the Old Moon, the German migrant’s “Ice Moon”, Winter Moon and the Anglo-Saxon “Moon after Yule”.