Full Moons during the next year

 

Full Moon Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2001 9 8 9 7 7 5 5 4 2 2 1+30 30

 

Blue Moon and the 12 Days of Yule

Did you ever ask yourself why there are 12 days of Christmas? Or 12 days of Yule as it were? Or what a Blue Moon is and why it's supposed to be so special?
Our great grand parents would probably have been able to tell us without faltering over their own logic. By now this has been mixed with urban myths, new age and outright superstition.
A friend of mine did some research and finally was able to come up with an explanation that did not stumble over logic or astronomy but actually made sense in accord with nature. I added some more research and here's our combined effort:

In the olden days, people counted their months my moons - the words still sound alike, even. There was a storm moon, a harvest moon, a wolf moon, when the wolves came closest to townships in winter, etc.

These moons where what they lived by. They were easy to see even if you didn't keep track of each and every day. To peasants back than a day was not important, nor was keeping track of years, but knowing each year and each moon was vital for harvest.

The name of the moon always referred to the "full moon" in a way, but the "month" lasted from one new moon until the next. So to speak the life of one moon from birth to death.

Now that poses a problem if you also live by the cycle of the sun. The sun takes 365.25 days before it reaches the same point again. The moon takes 29.5 days to renew. That makes it 12 moon cycles in a year which adds up to 354 days. Those lack 11.25 days before the end of the year, or 11 days each year and 12 days in every 4th year.

When you look into a calendar you'll find each year has 12 full moons, only some have 13. This 13th moon then occurs within the last 12 days of the year. And that's - surprise surprise - the time between Yule December 21st and the 1st of January.

This is where the word "between the years" and the 12 days of Yule or Xmas originate. This is also how it happened that January 1st (the 12th day after Yule) long ago became the first day of the new year.

If there was a 13th moon in a year, people called it the Blue Moon. It was *not* each second full moon in any given month! What does the moon have to do with our man-made months anyway? Our current months from January to December where invented by some king or other and have nothing to do with the moon phases any more.

On the other hand the 'real' Blue Moon (like we have one in December 2001) was considered highly unlucky by our ancestors, together with the time it occurred in. Believe it or not, my mother still tells me you should not do your laundry between the years.

The 12 days of Xmas are now the days between December 24th and January 6th, the beginning of the christian year. This has to do with the shift Yule underwent with the upraise of christianity.

So, there is your scientific explanation for Blue Moons as seen by our ancestors. If you consider them lucky or unlucky or nothing at all is up to you of course - or your high priestess. But before she tells you to dance naked around an oak on the 30th of November just because it's the second full moon in this month, think, ask some questions, and wear a sweater.

 

If you want to know the phase of the moon at a given date and time, please check out this applet

 

The Moon Calendar

A great task is to make yourself a moon calendar. You can do any of several varieties.
You could start to research the names of the moons. There are many different names depending on regions. Only where wine is grown there is a wine moon, other places it might have a berry moon. Some sources use names of goddesses or gods. Choose your own and what suits you best.
Then you can either add the moon phases to a normal calendar and find some pretty pictures to match them or you could go for the task to do a Babylonian or Mayan calendar with one wheel for the 12 moons and one for the sun year. You will find that the two wheels only meet again in the same point every 72 years, but are accureate nevertheless.
It's tricky but, hey, if they did it hundreds of years ago, it can't be *that* hard, can it?
Good luck and have fun!


Solar Eclipse

I've finally got the eclipse pictures up my Dad did. For more information click here.