The Tribal Reason Tonight's Full Moon Is the "Flower Moon"

This luminous moon has a rich history in Native traditions.

Flickr / Kafius

Few full moons are quite as beautiful as the Flower Moon. Tonight, (Wednesday, May 10) at 5:42 p.m. Eastern time, the moon will rise, shining faintly for the casual observer on their way home from work. Though everybody in the Northern Hemisphere won’t be able to see the moon in full peak, if you are on the East Coast, the best time to observe is around 8 p.m, when the sun sets.

Why It’s Called the “Flower Moon”

The Native Americans have a name for every full moon of the year. Last month’s was the Pink Moon, which symbolized the coming of spring. May’s full moon is known as the Flower Moon because it rises when flowers are beginning to bloom and blossom.

Ojibwe tribes of the Great Lakes named it the Flower Moon or “Waawaaskone Giizis.” The Ontario Native Women’s Association says this is when the plants display their spirit sides and it is a time of spiritual exploration. The moon is also a sign of health and rejuvenation, specifically because the plants have healing medicines that become available when the plants blossom.

Sure enough, this moon is right on time, as even the trees are sprouting foliage right about now. It is also believed to be a time of fertility and a good time to bear children as the months get warmer.

Other tribes, like the Cree Nation in northern Montana and parts of Canada, refer to the May moon as the Frog Moon because it is the time of year frogs begin to wake up and chirp. The Algonquins called the moon the Corn Planting Moon as it is the time of year that corn can begin to be planted. They also call it the Milk Moon because milkweed begins to bloom.

How and When to See the “Full Flower Moon”

During this full moon, the moon will be in the sky for a shorter period of time than the sun because the moon is running below the celestial equator, so it has a shorter path and makes quicker rotations around Earth. In fact, it will only spend about ten hours in the horizon.

Appearance-wise, the Flower Moon will be larger because it is closer to the horizon. And because it isn’t crossing paths with any planets or nearby stars, it will stand out brighter than usual.

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