June's Full Moon Is the Strawberry Moon

Full Strawberry moon of June rising over Manhattan
A strawberry moon rises over Manhattan. June's full moon is called the strawberry moon, not because it's pink, but because it reflects a time of year when plants, fruits and flowers grow abundantly. Claire Gentile/Getty Images

If you're a selenophile — someone who loves the moon — take note. This year's strawberry moon, a common nickname for June's full moon, will arrive on Saturday, June 3, with peak illumination coming at 11:43 p.m. ET (3:43 a.m. GMT on Sunday, June 4).

Since ancient times, people around the globe have given names to each full moon to indicate what was typically occurring at that time of the year. It was a way to mark the changing months and seasons. In the U.S., the full moon names that are used today are typically English derivations of the names that some Native American tribes were using when European colonists arrived. But others have Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, neo-Pagan or medieval English origins.


Origin of the Strawberry Moon Name

Several Native American tribes, including the Algonquian, Ojibwe, Dakota and Lakota, called the June moon the strawberry moon because June is the month strawberries ripen. But since flowers and other berries ripen in June as well, the moon was also known as the "blooming moon" by the Anishinaabe, the "berries ripen moon" by the Haida, and the "green corn moon" by the Cherokee. All these names celebrate the bounty of the earth or the cultivating of crops.

June was also seen as a time of new life, as animal babies are born at this time of year. Thus, the Pacific Northwest Tlingit called it the "birth moon," while the Cree dubbed it both the "egg-laying moon" and the "hatching moon."


European Nicknames for the Strawberry Moon

Over in Europe, two common nicknames for the strawberry moon were the "rose moon" and "hot moon," the former because roses bloom in June and the latter because June is when the weather begins to warm.

The Celts called it the "hose moon," "dyan moon" and the "mead moon." There's some uncertainty as to why they chose "horse moon," but dyan — derived from a word that means pair — likely highlights the fact that June is the year's midpoint. "Mead moon" indicates this month was the time to mow the meads or meadows. It could also be a nod to the fact that this is the full moon closes to the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year, when people drank mead to celebrate.


Speaking of the summer solstice, every 20 years or so this month's moon coincides with the summer solstice, which falls on either June 20, 21 or 22, depending on the year.

The word honeymoon may be derived from one of the European names for June's moon, the "honey moon." Many people harvested honey at the end of June, the sweetest time of year to do so. June is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth, which is one reason it was a popular month for weddings in ancient times and still is today. Newlyweds drank mead (which is made with fermented honey) during their first month of marriage as it allegedly was an aphrodisiac.