Welcome to the Winter Solstice. ~Vic
From Why Christmas:
The evergreen Fir Tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (Pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.
I did a complete write-up in 2018 on the Hunter’s Moon so, I won’t repeat it, here. That being said, this is a Blue Moon as October’s first full moon fell on…well…the first.
From Moon Giant:
Humans through the ages have always found autumn’s full moons to be creepy and not without good reason. [T]his year, the moon will be extra exciting. The month starts with the Harvest Moon on October 1st and a second Blue Moon on Halloween, October 31st. The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon that falls closest to the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd. In most years, the September Full Moon lands closest but, this is one of the rare years that the October Full Moon falls very early in the month and closest to the Equinox. This makes the first Full Moon the Harvest Moon and, the second, the Full Hunter’s Moon.
More from Moon Giant:
The modern day definition of a Blue Moon is when there are 2 Full Moons in one month. A Full Moon occurs roughly every 29.5 days and, on the rare occasion when the Full Moon falls at the very beginning of a month, there is a good chance a Blue Moon will occur at the end of the month. Depending on the exact time of the Blue Moon it is possible that some places in the world don’t technically have a Blue Moon. The modern definition […] was derived from an earlier idea of what a Blue Moon was. This earlier definition says a Blue Moon is when there are [four] Full Moons in a season rather than the usual [three]. The Blue moon is the 3rd Full Moon out of the 4. This definition gets a bit complicated and its origins are murky. One school of thought has to do with the naming of the Full Moons. Many cultures named the Full Moons each month to reflect the times for planting, harvesting or seasonal conditions. When an extra Full Moon was thrown in it was referred to as a Blue Moon to keep the Full Moon names constant throughout the year. The idea of a Blue Moon being the extra full Moon in a season (or when there were 13 in a year) was widely used in 19th, and early 20th [century], Farmers Almanacs and the more modern version seems to have come from an article written in the 1930s that misinterpreted the Farmers Almanac definition. The article was titled “Once in a Blue Moon” and from that point on, the term became part of the popular culture.
From Time and Date:
Why is it called a Blue Moon? The historical origins of the term and its two definitions are shrouded in a bit of mystery and, by many accounts, an interpretation error. Some believe that the term “blue moon”, meaning something rare, may have originated from when smoke and ashes after a volcanic eruption turned the Moon blue. Others trace the term’s origin to over 400 years ago. [F]olklorist Philip Hiscock has suggested that invoking the Blue Moon once meant that something was absurd and would never happen. This Halloween Blue Moon […] is also a Micro Full Moon.
100% illumination occurred at 10:49am EDT. ~Vic
I dropped the ball and missed posting about our Summer Solstice. I did catch some pictures, though and a Snapshots Sunday is a perfect reason to post them. I posted about the Solstice in 2018, shortly after I had started blogging, again, after a four year absence. I did an Almanac write-up on the Solstice in 2019. This year’s Solstice occurred at 5:44pm EDT, yesterday. ~Vic
♦ In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice coincided with the rising of the Nile River. As it was crucial to predict this annual flooding, the Egyptian New Year began at this important solstice.
♦ In centuries past, the Irish would cut hazel branches on solstice eve to be used in searching for gold, water and precious jewels.
♦ Many European cultures hold what are known as Midsummer celebrations at the solstice, which include gatherings at Stonehenge and the lighting of bonfires on hilltops.
I also didn’t have any immediate shots because of the weather and wound up posting some older pictures. Earlier, I thought the weather wasn’t going to cooperate tonight, either and I shared some older pix, below. But, it rose beautifully, without much cloud interference. It is a bit hazy, tho. I saved it for last. All photos are my personal collection ©, unless otherwise stated.
Full illumination occurs at 10:35pm EDT. Howl for me! ~Vic
Well, Spring has finally sprung and not a moment too soon. I’m sitting in my Adirondack chair, with my bare feet on the ground, watching the sunset through the limbs of my Hackberry tree. Yes, I have short feet. Shut up. (All photos are my personal collection. ©)
According to the Farmers’ Almanac 1818, this is the earliest First Day of Spring in 124 years. Yahoo! Maybe some warm, beautiful weather will offset the corona beer virus and this needless, manufactured hysteria that has appeared with it.
I did a Vernal Equinox post last year when it coincided with the Full Worm Moon. In our area, it was as high as 80° and I was out in it. My buddy Ray had some errands to run so, off we went to the county north of us. Once the errands were completed, we headed to downtown Roxboro for lunch & a minor visit to their museum (pictures coming tomorrow).
From Farmers’ Almanac 1818:
[Spring] will occur at 11:50 p.m. EDT for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere […]. Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21 but, astronomers and calendar manufacturers, alike, now say that the spring season starts on March 20th, in all time zones in North America. And, in 2020, it’s even a day earlier than that…something that hasn’t happened since 1896.
There are a few reasons why seasonal dates can vary from year to year. The first is that a year is not an even number of days and neither are the seasons. Another reason is that the earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation (skew), which causes the earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction, called precession. Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun. The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the location of the earth in its orbit.
Additional Interesting Reading:
First Day of Spring (The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1792)
Last year, the Full Worm Moon coincided with the Vernal Equinox. This year, the Worm Moon will be at full illumination at 1:47pm, today. I got some shots of it, earlier (actually, wee hours of the morning).
I did a complete write-up on the Worm Moon on my 2019 post with all of the interesting and varied Native American names. This year, our Worm Moon is a Supermoon, though that isn’t really a true and official ‘astronomical’ term. It’s more of an astrological description and, apparently, was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle. The technical term is perigee syzygy, with perigee referring to the closeness of the Moon to the Earth and syzygy referring to a straight-line astronomical configuration of three celestial bodies. Depending upon that configuration, there might be a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse. Supermoons also bring higher tides. This Moon is the last full moon of Winter. Howl for me! ~Vic
I did a Beaver Moon post last year with background information and alternate names. I won’t duplicate the information, here…just some new pictures.
100% illumination occurred, here, at 8:34am EST.
All pictures are my personal collection ©. Howl for me! ~Vic
Old Farmer’s Almanac
Now that I have gotten the Billboard nonsense off of my chest, today is the first day of Autumn. The Equinox of 2018 fell on September 22. I wasn’t out and about, today so, no pix but, I do have some from last year.
The Equinox for our area occurred at 3:50am EDT. ~Vic
I did a Harvest Moon post last year and, once again, I can’t get any pix of tonight’s moon. We have an incredible low ceiling and I haven’t seen the sun all day. On a positive note, a low ceiling makes sound travel farther and I can hear the local high school football game from three miles away. The last time there was a full moon on Friday the 13th, it was January of 2006 and it wasn’t here. Technically, my area won’t be full illumination until 12:33am EDT but, the rest of the country, westward…Jason might turn into a werewolf.
I DO have some shots from September 15, 2016, tho, taken with my, then, Samsung S5.
From Moon Giant:
September’s Full Moon was called the Full Corn Moon or Harvest Moon by the early North American Farmers. The term “Harvest Moon” refers to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. The Full Moon closest to this Equinox rises about 20 minutes later each night as apposed to the rest of the year when the moon rises around 50 minutes later each night. In the northern hemisphere, the Full Harvest Moon rises very soon after sunset, providing plenty of bright light for farmers harvesting their summer crops. September’s full moon is so well-known for its luminosity and brilliance that certain Native American tribes even named it the Big Moon. The Full Harvest Moon holds major cultural significance in many different communities, who spend this full moon not just celebrating the fall harvest but, also, the moon itself.
The most widely known tradition associated with the Full Harvest Moon is the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated by Chinese communities all around the world. It is also known as the Mooncake Festival. On the full moon night of the eighth lunar month, people gather with friends and family to admire the brilliant full moon while eating mooncakes and drinking tea. Mooncakes are a rich pastry traditionally filled with sweet bean paste, or lotus seed paste, and sometimes, even include salted egg yolks. The sweet osmanthus flower also blooms during this time and, is often used in teas and the reunion wine drunk when visiting with family. It is a common tradition to celebrate by carrying brightly colored lanterns. [You] can often enjoy the beautiful sight of lanterns hanging in front of buildings or in parks, or sky lanterns floating towards the full moon.
The Japanese celebrate this full moon with the Tsukimi tradition (which literally means moon-viewing in Japanese), where people prepare offerings to the moon and eat round tsukimi dango, or rice dumplings. In Korea, this full moon is celebrated as Chuseok, which is one of Korea’s most major holidays, similar to Thanksgiving. People travel back to their hometowns for reunions with their family and tend to their ancestors’ graves. Traditional activities include exchanging gifts, playing folk games, drinking rice wine, and eating songpyeon, which is a rice cake shaped like a half-moon.
[The] Full Harvest Moon is called the Nut Moon by the Cherokee tribes, who gather all sorts of nuts to make nut bread, which is eaten during harvest festivals such as the Ripe Corn Festival. During this moon, Native American tribes pay respects to Mother Earth for her generosity in providing food for her children, including corn and other staple foods. Chinese communities, on the other hand, spend the Mid-Autumn Festival worshipping the Moon Goddess, Chang’e.
Just as I was creating this post, our clouds cleared. I got a couple of different shots as I was experimenting with my phone’s camera settings.
Howl for me! ~Vic
I did a post last year, celebrating the Summer Solstice of 2018. I got some really cool pictures that day. I got a few this year with some visitations from nature.
If anyone can identify my caterpillar, let me know. ~Vic
The Summer Solstice for our area of the planet was at 11:45am EDT.
The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium — from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped), reflecting the fact that on the solstice, the Sun appears to stop “moving” in the sky as it reaches its northern or, southernmost point (declination) for the year, as seen from Earth. After the solstice, the Sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction. The motion referred to here is the apparent path of the Sun when one views its position in the sky at the same time each day, for example at local noon. Over the year, its path forms a sort of flattened figure eight, called an analemma. Of course, the Sun, itself, is not moving (unless you consider its own orbit around the Milky Way Galaxy). Tnstead, this change in position in the sky that we on Earth notice is caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis as it orbits the Sun, as well as Earth’s elliptical, rather than circular, orbit. The timing of the June solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time. It all depends on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator.
Did you know that the Sun actually sets more slowly around the time of a solstice, in that it takes longer to set below the horizon? This is related to the angle of the setting Sun. The farther the Sun sets from due west along the horizon, the shallower the angle of the setting Sun. (Conversely, it’s faster at or near the equinoxes.) Bottom-line, enjoy those long romantic summertime sunsets at or near the solstice!
Many cultures, both ancient and modern, celebrate the sunlight with rituals and holidays. Every year on the summer solstice, thousands of people travel to Wiltshire, England, to Stonehenge […]. There are many Midsummer celebrations all over the planet.
As the snowiest month in the United States, February’s full moon is commonly known as the Full Snow Moon in Native American cultures. These ancient tribes named this moon after the way trees cracked in the cold or how people had to sit shoulder to shoulder around the fire for warmth. Even the Celts called it the Moon of Ice. As expected of the coldest month in the year, the Full Snow Moon is also known by more sinister names, such as the Bone Moon. The Cherokee tribe called February’s full moon the Bone Moon because, by this point, the tribe’s winter food supplies had usually dwindled to the point where people had to gnaw on bones and cook bone marrow soup in order to survive. For the same reason, the Kalapuya tribe called this moon the Out of Food Moon. Appropriately, it’s also known as the Hunger Moon and the Little Famine Moon. Perhaps, due to this month’s association with death, the Cherokee tribe would commune with their dead ancestors during the Bone Moon. A didanawiskawi, or a medicine person, would host a medicine dance for the community. Fasting and rituals for the dead were also common practices.
However, not all cultures associate February’s full moon with extreme cold and death. The Hopi tribe calls it the Moon of Purification and Renewal, which is very fitting because the Full Snow Moon is usually the very first full moon of the year according to the lunar calendar. Cultures that follow the lunar calendar, especially East Asian cultures, tend to associate the Full Snow Moon with new beginnings for this very reason. The ancient Chinese, for example, called it the Budding Moon. As a matter of fact, celebrations of February’s full moon are the climax of Lunar New Year festivities in various East Asian countries. In China, the Full Snow Moon is celebrated during the Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival, which is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. During this festival, the Chinese release kongming lanterns into the sky as they admire the full moon and eat tangyuan, glutinous rice balls that are usually filled with sweet paste. The round shape of the balls symbolize family togetherness and bring good luck to the whole family.
Many East Asian cultures in general also light lanterns and bonfires to celebrate February’s full moon. According to an ancient Chinese legend, not long after Buddhism was brought into China, 17 deities were witnessed flying through the sky during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. Shocked and excited, the populace lit fires and lanterns to see the godly beings better. They continued to do so year after year but, for more practical reasons – to chase away pests and to pray for a good crop in the upcoming spring. In Korea, where February’s full moon is known as Daeboreum, these fiery structures are called “Houses of the Burning Moon”. During Daeboreum, Koreans hike mountains, despite the freezing temperatures, in order to catch a glimpse of the first rise of the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. According to legend, the very first person to accomplish this feat will have their dearest wish come true.
From Farmers’ Almanac:
Among the Micmac people of eastern Canada, the driving winds that often accompany February snows led to the name Snow-Blinding Moon. Because this month’s typically harsh weather conditions made hunting very difficult, other common names for February’s Moon included the Hunger Moon, Bony Moon, and Little Famine Moon. To the early American colonists, the optimal time for trapping beaver, fox and mink was the dead of winter when these animals’ coats were at their fullest. So, to them, February’s moon was known as the Trapper’s Moon.
From a Wiccan site I stumbled across while ‘Googling’ (or ‘Binging’) a particular name, additional names not listed above are Storm Moon, Horning Moon, Wild Moon, Red & Cleansing Moon, Quickening Moon, Big Winter Moon, Moon When Trees Pop and Chaste Moon. And, there is quite an extensive list of Native American moons on Skywise Unlimited.
100% illumination will occur at 10:53am EST.
Howl for me! ~Vic
From Moon Giant:
The December full moon is commonly known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Full Long Nights Moon. It takes its name from the Winter Solstice which has the longest night in the year. The Full Long Nights Moon cuts a soaring trajectory through the wintry skies, in direct opposition to the low-hanging sun. The Algonquins called this full moon the Cold Moon in reference to the cold light it casts upon long winter nights. Strangely enough, in certain other cultures, December’s full moon can actually be associated with warmth.
To the Deborean Clan, the Cold Moon is associated with staying in your cosy home beside a crackling fireplace, surrounded not just by physical warmth but, also the warmth of family and friends. Similarly, the Wishram tribe named December’s full moon the Winter Houses Moon. Given that it coincides with holidays like Yule, Pagans consider this the perfect time to open up your home and provide warmth to those you love, as well as to those who are most vulnerable to the cold of winter.
For those who are more inclined towards solitude, the Full Long Nights Moon provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy your cosy home in peace and quiet. Consider taking lots of restful naps under warm, fluffy comforters or allowing yourself to lounge in bed in the mornings instead of rising immediately to work. Appropriately, the Native American Zuni tribe called December’s full moon the Moon Where the Sun Comes Home to Rest. This full moon is a great time for you to take a long overdue break and recharge, so that you may shine all the brighter when it comes time for you to rise again.
This period of slow restfulness is also very conducive to introspection. When you look inwards and take stock of your life during this time, try to focus on loose ends and the little things that you’ve left hanging throughout the year. As the last full moon that rises before the year draws to a close, the Full Long Nights Moon is a time of endings. Take advantage of this full moon’s energy and bring an end to tasks you’ve been meaning to do, clearing your mind so you can move forward with a clean slate.
As much as the Full Long Nights Moon may be about endings, it is also about beginnings and rebirth. The Sioux Indians’ name for December’s full moon is the Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns, thus beginning the process of growing new ones. The Celts, on the other hand, call it the Elder Moon. Elder is fragile and easily damaged but, it’s also full of vitality and recovers very quickly. As the Elder Moon shines upon you, allow yourself to rest and heal from everything that has hurt you over the year and, focus instead on new beginnings and promising areas of growth. This is an excellent time to start planning your New Year’s resolutions and set exciting new goals for the upcoming year.
From Moon Connection:
The full moon name often used by Christian settlers is the Moon Before Yule.
From Farmers Almanac:
I was hoping to capture some images of the Moon, tonight but, we are so overcast from the rain storms, it’s just not going to happen. I will try tomorrow night.
Winter is officially here, as if all the snow we’ve had wasn’t a clue. The solstice arrived at 5:23pm EST and tomorrow’s Full Moon will be at 100% full illumination at 12:48pm EST. From The Almanac:
The word solstice comes from Latin sol “sun” and sistere “to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day. The high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day.
At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.
The solstice is the beginning of astronomical winter. (An almanac is defined as a “calendar of the heavens,” so we use the astronomical definition.) Astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. However, meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle. For the ancient Celts, the calendar was based around the solstices and equinoxes, marking the Quarter Days, with the mid-points called Cross-Quarter Days.
This is the longest night of the year. It is a time for rest and reflection. Just like Spring cleaning time, the beginning of Winter can herald a cleaning of its own. Cold temperatures and bad weather can mean more time indoors. It can be a time for sifting through the past or contemplating the future. Many may find that re-evaluating relationships and possessions is easier during this slower time. I will be lighting a candle and smudging. Wishing everyone health and happiness. ~Vic