The Wheel of the Year

Within the mystery traditions there’s a lot of mention of moon cycle celebrations and sun cycle celebrations. Often they are called esbats and sabbaths, which has amused me, as the only explanation I’ve found for those names so far is that they are thought to come from the French word s’esbattre, which means “to joyfully celebrate.” It must be chique to celebrate (neo)-pagan in French, then.

Moon celebrations in one lunar month

The approach to moon celebrations I hear about most, is to take the cycle from new moon, to full moon, back to new moon. However, I have also been told that Germanic tribes took their moons (months) from full moon to full moon. This statement seems to come forth from the 19 year Runic calendars (also Rune staff or Runic Almanac), as these take the first full moon after Midwinter as a starting point.

I haven’t made up my mind about this. Germanic tribes are known to have had a different perception of time: they counted time in nights and winters, not days and summers, and the night (or we would say: the new day) begins at sundown, not midnight. If a ‘day’ starts when it’s dark, and a year starts at the longest night, then it does not make much sense to me to start a moon cycle at full moon.

Moon celebrations in a sun year

A moon cycle takes 29,5 days, so that means 12 lunations = 354 days en 13 lunations = 383,5 days. Here’s where the words ‘golden numbers’ come into place. It takes 19 years for the moon to be on the same positions, meaning: every 19 years, the full moons are on the same days. If this is the case, a year has the golden number 1, the next year, 2, etc. and there are 19 golden numbers.


(Source: Calvin J. Hamilton’s Solarviews.)

But how does all of this fit in a year (or sun cycle)? The first places I’ve looked were 2 Dutch wiccan authorities:

Merlin Sythove from Silver Circle

Merlin was inspired by Peter Larkworthy. His article “The Thirteen Moons” appeared in The Wiccan in may 1982. Larkworthy took the first new moon after Midwinter as a starting point (Snow Moon).

Merlin however, took Samhain as the starting point of the year, which means that his list of moons starts with the Blood Moon. This approach is inspired by Colin Murray, who wrote in 1979 that Samhain marks the start of a year.

1) Blood Moon
2) Tree Moon
3) Long Night Moon
3a) Ice Moon (this is a 13th moon according to Merlin)
4) Snow Moon
5) Death Moon
6) Awakening Moon
7) Grass Moon
8) Planting Moon (I think this should be Plant Moon – see below)
9) Rose Moon
10) Lightning Moon
11) Harvest Moon (Larkworthy: Barley Moon)
12) Hunter Moon (Larkworthy: Wort Moon)

Joke & Ko Lankester from Circe Wicca use about the same moon names, but in a different order. They start with the new moon after Midwinter, and add a 13th moon after the Blood moon:

1) Maan vd Langste Nacht  (Long Night Moon)
2) IJsmaan (Ice Moon)
3) Sneeuwmaan (Snow Moon)
4) Maan van de Dood (Death Moon)
5) Maan van het ontwaken (Awakening Moon)
6) Grasmaan (Grass Moon)
7) Plantmaan (Plant Moon)
8) Maan van de Roos (Rose Moon)
9) Maan van het Weerlicht (Lightning Moon)
10) Oogstmaan (Harvest Moon)
11) Jachtmaan (Hunters Moon)
12) Bloedmaan (Blood Moon)
12a) Boommaan (Tree Moon, the 13th moon, according to Joke and Ko)

13th moon

It confuses me to see a 13th moon implemented in a fixed place. Although I can imagine that Merlins Ice moon and Snow moon would make a great pair in December/January, IMO this can only be used if two full moons are seen in that part of the year. In Joke and Ko’s work, the Ice Moon is always there, which IMO leads to a shift in the Moons that makes them run a little too late in the year.

It doesn’t make sense to me to put the extra moon in a fixed place. I’ve found some support in the Theory of the Blue moons. In National Geographic: “Every two and a half years or so, there is an extra full moon, called a blue moon. The origin of the term is uncertain, and its precise definition has changed over the years. The term is commonly used today to describe the second full moon of a calendar month, but it was originally the name given to the third full moon of a season containing four full moons.”

Note that they refer to the year being cut in to 3 peaces, not 4.

Germanic and Old English Moon names

Joke and Ko’s work, and also Merlins work, is neo-pagan. And I do not always get what they base their decisions upon. So, I’ve looked at the Germanic and English month names and put that in 2013 to make it easier to compare things.

Merlin and Joke and Ko, prescribe to start at New Moon, which would mean that this year starts at Friday January 11th.

There’s different names possible, depending upon whether or not the Germanic tribes took the first full moon after Midwinter as a starting point (which was on December 28th 2012) or the first new moon.

I’ll list them up, so we can compare things.

Sun cycle celebrations

At the start of my text I’ve mentioned the sun cycle celebrations as well. I’ve always been puzzled by the line that seems to be drawn between the moon celebrations and the sun cycle celebrations in that same month. To me that does not make much sense, in my opinion they are very related and this would mean that the months moon-theme needs to be related to the sun-theme of that same month. (You’ll see a lot of moon month names refer to seasonal activities.)

To make it easier to compare things, I’ve mentiond the sun-celebration-themes in this overview as well.

Why cutting a year in 8 parts, and not 4?

With regard to the Germanic tribes, I’m very much convinced that they made divisions in 8. Not only does Odin’s horse with the 8 legs give us a clue of the importance of that number, also the Sami statement to be a ‘folk of 8 seasons’ hints in the same direction. Personally, I feel there’s a connection with the compass and the Northern naviagion skills. It would simply not be enough to cut a circle in 4 to know where you are. Not in place. And not in time either.

==

January
New Moon: Friday January 11, 20:44
Full Moon: Sunday January 27, 05:38

If we take full moon- full moon, this month is from December 28 2012 – January 27.

If we take new moon – new moon, this month is from January 11 – February 10.

Merlin:
Long Night Moon (December 13-Januari 11) – Snow Moon (January 11 – February 10)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Æftera Jéola or Jiuli (After Yule)

Here’s something interesting to observe, as Yule took place on the 21st of December. The month ‘december’ (as we know it), was called Ærra Jéola or Jiuli (Before Yule). If we take a moon cycle from new moon to new moon, that would be December 13-Januari 11 + January 11 – February 10.
If we take a moon cycle from full moon to full moon, that would be November 28-December 28 + December 28 2012 – January 27.
To me the dates seem to shift too far to be before and after Yule if you take the ‘new moons’ as a starting point.

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Harti-mánód (Month of Severe Frost)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Hartung (Severeness), Eis-mond, or Schnee-mond

Old Norse (13th century):
Mörsugur (Suet-sucker, fat sucking, first part) or Jól (Yule) and Þorri (Thor, second part).

Icelandic:
Mörsugur (first part) & Þorri (second part) or “frozen snow month”.  Þorri started on a Friday some time between 9 and 15 January of the Julian calendar.

This would plead for a new moon – new moon (January 11 – February 10) approach, as December 28 2012 – January 27 would not fit in here.

Old West Frisian:
Foarmoanne (front, beginning, bow)

Old Danish:
Glugmåned

Old Swedish:
Torsmånad

Old Dutch:
Lauwmaand; louwmaand (=looimaand), also Wolfmaand

Medieval English:
Wolf Moon

Farmers Almanac (USA): Wolf Moon.
Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

Volgens National Geographic: “Native Americans and medieval Europeans named January’s full moon after the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the midwinter paucity of food. Other names for this month’s full moon include Old Moon and Ice Moon.”

It seems to me that Snow Moon and Ice Moon were mixed up quite often.

==

Imbolc Friday February 1

==

Februari
New Moon: Sunday February 10
Full Moon: Monday February 25

If we take full moon- full moon, this month is from January 27 –  February 25

If we take new moon – new moon, this month is from February 10 – March 11

Merlin:
Snow Moon – Death Moon (February 10 – March 11)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Sol-mónaþ

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Hornung (Horning, the shedding of antlers)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Hornung

Old Norse (13th century):
Þorri and Gói (possibly Winter); Kyndilsmessa (candle/kindle-mass – might be a later ‘tradition’)

Icelandic:
Góa (mid February – mid March, “Góa’s month”, see Nór). Góa always starts on a Sunday between 8 and 14 February of the Julian calendar.

Old West Frisian:
Sellemoanne (sell could mean ‘space’ or ‘room’, I suspect this refers to ‘being inside’ or f.e. ‘being in the stable’)

Old Danish:
Blidemåned

Old Swedish:
Göjemånad

Old Dutch:
Sprokkelmaand; Regenmaand

Medieval English:
Storm moon

Farmers Almanac (USA): Snow Moon
Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.

According to National Geographic: “The typically cold, snowy weather of February in North America earned its full moon the name snow moon. Other common names include storm moon and hunger moon.”

==

Ostara Wednesday March 20

==

March
New Moon: Monday March 11
Full Moon: Wednesday March 27

Merlin: Death Moon – Awakening Moon (starts at new moon Monday March 11th)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Hréð-mónaþ (Month of the Goddess Hréð or Month of Wildness – Hréð means something like Glory, Praise, Triumph)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Lenzin-mánód (Spring Month)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Lenzing or Lenz-mond

Old Norse (13th century):
Gói and Ein-mánuðr

Icelandic:
Einmánuður (mid March – mid April, “lone” or “single month” (the spring equinox is in this month, which is remarkable, as in august/september, around the fall equinox the term ‘two month’ is being used)

Old West Frisian:
Foarjiersmoanne (voorjaar)

Old Danish:
Tormåned

Old Swedish:
Vårmånad

Old Dutch:
Lentemaand; Windmaand

Medieval English:
Chaste Moon (puur, virgin, clean, etc)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Worm Moon
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.

According to National Geographic: “Native Americans called this last full moon of winter the worm moon after the worm trails that would appear in the newly thawed ground. Other names include chaste moon, death moon, crust moon (a reference to snow that would become crusty as it thawed during the day and froze at night), and sap moon, after the tapping of the maple trees.”

 

April
New Moon: Wednesday April 10
Full Moon:: Thursday April 25

Merlin: Awakening Moon – Grass Moon (starts at new moon Wednesday April 10th)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Eostur-mónaþ (“Easter Month“, “Spring month“; month named after the Goddess ?ostre)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Óstar-mánód (Ostern (Easter) month)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Oster-mond

Old Norse (13th century):
Ein-mánuðr (in this month is the spring-equinox, which is remarkable, as in august/september, around the fall equinox the term ‘two month’ is being used) and Harpa (which means something like ‘harp’, the instrument)

Icelandic:
Harpa (mid April – mid May) Harpa is a female name, probably a forgotten goddess. The first day of Harpa is celebrated as Sumardagurinn fyrsti, the First Day of Summer (first Thursday after 18 April).

Old West Frisian:
Gersmoanne (gras)

Old Danish:
Fåremåned; græsmåned

Old Swedish:
Gräsmånad

Old Dutch:
Grasmaand; Kiemmaand; Paasmaand

Medieval English:
Seed Moon

Farmers Almanac (USA): Pink Moon
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.

According to National Geographic: “Northern Native Americans call April’s full moon the pink moon after a species of early blooming wildflower. In other cultures, this moon is called the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon, and the fish moon.”

==

Beltane Tuesday April 30

==

May
New Moon: Friday May 10
Full Moon: Saturday May 25

Merlin: Grass Moon – Planting Moon (starts at Friday May 10th)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Þrimilki-mónaþ (or Þrimilcem?naþ) Month of Three Milkings – I’ve had to think about this one. Maybe it’s because cows are the first to produce milk from the new grass from the previous moon-month. In the NL it is around this time that the ‘grass cheese’ can be bought.

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Drímilki, Winni-mánód

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Wonne-mond (Graze Month, a later interpretation reads Blissfulness Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Harpa and Skerpla (something like ‘sharpening’).

Icelandic:
Skerpla (mid May – mid June, another forgotten goddess.)

Old West Frisian:
Blommemoanne (bloemen)

Old Danish:
Majmåned; Blomstermåned

Old Swedish:
Blomstermånad; Lövmånad

Old Dutch:
Bloeimaand

Medieval English:
Hare Moon (this could point at Ostara?)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Flower Moon
In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

According to National Geopgraphic: “May’s abundant blooms give its full moon the name flower moon in many cultures. Other names include the hare moon, the corn planting moon, and the milk moon.”

==

Litha Friday June 21

==

June
New Moon: Saturday June 8
Full Moon: Sunday June 23

Merlin: Planting Moon – Rose Moon (starts on new moon Saturday June 8th)
(in the NL this is a rose month)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Ærra Líða (Before Midsummer)
if there’s another moon: Þrilíða (Third Midsummer)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Bráh-mánód – something about crop rotation (?)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Brachet or Brach-mond

Old Norse (13th century):
Skerpla and Sól-mánuðr (Sol month)

Icelandic:
Sólmánuður (mid June – mid July, “sun month”)

Old West Frisian:
Simmermoanne (zomer)

Old Danish:
Skærsommer

Old Swedish:
Sommarmånad

Old Dutch:
Zomermaand; Weidemaand

Medieval English:
Dyan Moon (can mean devine or pair)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Strawberry Moon
This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

According to National Geographic: “In North America, the harvesting of strawberries in June gives that month’s full moon its name Strawberry moon. Europeans have dubbed it the rose moon, while other cultures named it the hot moon for the beginning of the summer heat.”

 

July
New Moon: Monday July 8
Full Moon: Monday July 22

Merlin:
Rose Moon – Lightning Moon (starts on new moon Monday July 8th)
This is a tough one for a coastal region like where I live here in the NL. In the inlands, the thunderstrom peak is in spring and summer, but usually at the coast it’s around fall.

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Æftera Líða (After Midsummer)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Hewi-mánód or Hou-mánód (Hay Month)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Heuert or Heu-mond (Hay Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Sól-mánuðr and Heyannir (Sol’s month, Haying)

Icelandic:
Heyannir (mid July – mid August, “hay business month”)

Old West Frisian:
Heamoanne (hooi)

Old Danish:
Hømåned; Ormemåned

Old Swedish:
Hömånad

Old Dutch:
Hooimaand; Oogstmaand

Medieval English:
Mead Moon (mede)

Farmers Almanac (USA) & National Geographic:
Buck Moon (native american). July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

==

Lughnasadh Wednesday July 31

==

August
New Moon: Tuesday August 6
Full Moon: Wednesday August 21

Merlin:
Lightning Moon – Harvest Moon (starts on new moon Tuesday August 6th)

The name Harvest Moon makes a lot of sense to me, as in this time actually a lot of harvest do get started.

Larkworthy:
Barley Moon

The dutch word for barley is “gerst” – the start of the barley harvest in our country usually starts halfway august indeed. Why Larkworthy chose this type of crop specifically to name that moon, is worth another look.

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Weod-mónaþ (Plant month)

I think the neo pagan namen ‘planting month’ comes from this moon name. It’s IMO not about ‘planting’ but about the crops.

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Aran-mánód (Month of Harvest)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Ernting or Ernte-mond (Harvesting, Crop or Harvest Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Heyannir (Hay month) and Tvímánuðr (Double month – 2nd harvest maybe??)

Icelandic:
Tvímánuður (“two month”, mid August – mid September, look back at the ‘one month’ remark above)

Old West Frisian:
Rispmoanne (oogst)

Old Danish:
Høstmåned

Old Swedish:
Skördemånad

Old Dutch:
Oogstmaand; Hittemaand

Medieval English:
Corn Moon
(this harvest indeed starts in august, and continues in september)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Sturgeon Moon
The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

According to National Geographic: “North American fishing tribes called August’s full moon the sturgeon moon since the species was abundant during this month. It’s also been called the green corn moon, the grain moon, and the red moon for the reddish hue it often takes on in the summer haze.”

==

Mabon Sunday September 22

==

September
Thursday September 5, 13:36 – Thursday September 19, 13:13 (new and full moon in 2013)

Merlin: Harvest Moon – Hunters Moon (starts on new moon Thursday September 5th)

Larkworthy: Wort Moon (from Old English wyrt (“herb, vegetable, plant, crop, root”), Germanic wurtiz, German Wurz (“herb, root”), Danish urt (“herb”), Swedish ört (“herb”), Icelandic jurt (“herb”)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Hálig-mónaþ (Holy Month) or Hærfest-mónaþ (Harvest Month)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Witu-mánód (Month of Wood) of fall month

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Scheidung (Separating) or Herbst-mond (Autumn Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Tví-mánuðr (“two month”, mid August – mid September)

Icelandic:
Haustmánuður (mid September – mid October, “autumn month”)

Old West Frisian:
Hjerstmoanne (herfst)

Old Danish:
Fiskemåned

Old Swedish:
Höstmånad

Old Dutch:
Herfstmaand; Gerstmaand; Vruchtmaand

Medieval English:
Barley Moon (gerst – in NLwordt dit half augustus geoogst)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Corn Moon or Full Harvest Moon
This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon, which is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

National Geographic: “The most familiar named moon, September’s harvest moon refers to the time of year after the autumn equinox when crops are gathered. It also refers to the moon’s particularly bright appearance and early rise, which lets farmers continue harvesting into the night. Other names include the corn moon and the barley moon.

 

October
Saturday October 5, 02:34 – Saturday October 19, 01:38 (new and full moon in 2013)

Merlin: Hunters Moon – Blood Moon (starts on new moon of Saturday October 5th) – I suspect that ‘blood moon’ is a wrong translation. This might come from ‘blót’ which means sacrifice (although usually blood ís shed, as most sacrifices in those traditions include animal sacriface). October is an important hunt moon.

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Winterfylleth (Winterfilled) or Rujern (Rye harvest – rogge) or Win-mónaþ (Wine month)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Windume-mánód (Month of Vintage – grapes)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Gilbhart or Gilbhard (Forest Yellowing) or Wein-mond (Wine Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Haust-manuðr and Gor-mánuðr

Icelandic:
Gormánuður (mid October – mid November, “slaughter month” or “Gór’s month”)

Old West Frisian:
Wynmoanne (wijn)

Old Danish:
Sædemåned/Lijlemåned

Old Swedish:
Slaktmånad

Old Dutch:
Wijnmaand

Medieval English:
Blood Moon

Farmers Almanac (USA): Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon
This full Moon is often referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains. Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Hunter’s Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.

National Geographic: “The first moon after the harvest moon is the hunter’s moon, so named as the preferred month to hunt summer-fattened deer and fox unable to hide in now bare fields. Like the harvest moon, the hunter’s moon is also particularly bright and long in the sky, giving hunters the opportunity to stalk prey at night. Other names include the travel moon and the dying grass moon.”

==

Samhain Thursday October 31

==

November
Sunday November 3, 13:50 – Sunday November 17, 16:16 (new and full moon in 2013)

Merlin: Blood Moon – Tree Moon (starts with the new moon of Sunday November 3rd)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Blót-mónaþ (Blót Month)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Wintar-mánód (Winter monat)

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Nebelung (Fogging), Nebel-mond (Fog Month) or Winter-mond

Old Norse (13th century):
Gor-mánuðr and Frer-mánuðr (Frost month)

Icelandic:
Ýlir (mid November – mid December, “Yule month”)

Old West Frisian:
Slachtmoanne (slacht)

Old Danish:
Slagtemåned

Old Swedish:
Vintermånad

Old Dutch:
Slachtmaand; Nevelmaand

Medieval English:
Snow Moon

Farmers Almanac (USA): Beaver Moon
This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

National Geographic: “There is disagreement over the origin of November’s beaver moon name. Some say it comes from Native Americans setting beaver traps during this month, while others say the name comes from the heavy activity of beavers building their winter dams. Another name is the frost moon.”

==

Yule December 21, 2013

==

December
Tuesday December 3, 01:22 – Tuesday December 17, 10:28 (new and full moon in 2013)

Merlin: Tree Moon – Long Night Moon (starts on the new moon of Tuesday December 3rd)

Old English/Anglo-Saxon (8th – 9th century):
Ærra Jéola or Jiuli (Before Yule)

Old High German (8th – 9th century):
Jul monat

Carolingian (8th – 10th century):
Jul-mond (Yule Month), Heil-mond (Holy Month)

Old Norse (13th century):
Frer-mánuðr and Morsugr; or Jól (Yule month)

Icelandic:
Mörsugur (mid December – mid January), “fat sucking month” – refers to food, fat food, hunger, but I’d like to add that fat was used for candles in the old days as well, so this could point out the candles that are needed in the dark nights around X-mas.

Old West Frisian:
Wintermoanne (winter)

Old Danish:
Julemåned

Old Swedish:
Julmånad

Old Dutch:
Wintermaand; Sneeuwmaand

Medieval English:
Oak moon (as far as I know the Yule log in England is traditionally oak)

Farmers Almanac (USA): Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon
During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

National Geographic: “The coming of winter earned December’s full moon the name cold moon. Other names include the long night moon and the oak moon.”

To further explore:

  • The Runic calendar developed in medieval Sweden is lunisolar, fixing the beginning of the year at the first full moon after winter solstice.
  • Mani.
  • Tacitus in his Germania (ch. 11) gives some indication of how the Germanic peoples of the first century reckoned the days. In contrast to Roman usage, they considered the day to begin at sunset, a system that in the Middle Ages came to be known as the “Florentine reckoning”. The same system is also recorded for the Gauls in Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
“They assemble, except in the case of a sudden emergency, on certain fixed days, either at new or at full moon; for this they consider the most auspicious season for the transaction of business. Instead of reckoning by days as we do, they reckon by nights, and in this manner fix both their ordinary and their legal appointments. Night they regard as bringing on day.”

Other continents

Western terms are not alone. On this page you’ll find another overview for Cherokee, Chinese, and so on.
And when you’re interested in Maya months, read here.

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