April’s full moon – which will be brightest on Saturday, April 16, at 2.55 p.m. ET, but will appear full until Monday morning – is called the Pink Moon. This name is not connected to the moon’s color though, but to the blooming in the Northern Hemisphere of a brightly-colored flower, the wild ground phlox (Phlox subulata, also known as the “creeping phlox” or “moss pink”), which typically coincides with the arrival of this moon.
In the Christian tradition, the Pink Moon is known as the Paschal Full Moon, since Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the moon rises. For Hindus, this moon marks Hanuman Jayanti, the feast of the Hindu monkey deity Lord Hanuman. Buddhists of Sri Lanka call it Bak Poya, and celebrate Buddha’s visit to the country, where he prevented a war by settling the disputes between Sri Lankan chiefs.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Native American names for April’s full moon were homages to the coming of spring. Thus, the Dakota tribe called it “the moon when the streams are again navigable,” the Tingit dubbed it “the budding moon of plants and shrubs,” and the Oglala “the moon of the red grass appearing.” Other Native American names refer to the reappearance of certain animals, such as “the moon when the ducks come back” (Lakota), “the moon when the geese lay eggs” (Dakota), “the frog moon” (Cree), or the “fish moon” (among several coastal tribes). Various folklore traditions claim that the period from the full moon through the last quarter of the moon is best for killing weeds, cutting timber, pruning, mowing, and planting below-ground crops.
However, in some parts of the world, this moon does not mark the arrival of spring. In New Zealand, for instance, the Māori people’s traditions connected to this moon reflect the fact that April is an autumn month in the Southern Hemisphere. The Māori call this moon “Paenga-whāwhā,” describing the period when it rises as a time when “all straw is now stacked at the borders of the plantations.”
Regardless of its various cultural or religious connotations though, April’s full moon will offer a spectacular view to people from both hemispheres. If the skies are not cloudy, people everywhere in the world can enjoy a beautiful astronomical event throughout this entire weekend.
By Andrei Ionescu, Earth.com Staff Writer