The Full Moon – the brightest object in the night sky – is a striking sight, and features in the art, myths and cultural traditions of all peoples of Earth.
With every Full Moon, we’re inviting you to celebrate something special about South Africa, to revel in our shared heritage and to remember that we’re together under one sky.
A Full Moon (when the Moon rises as the Sun sets) happens about once a month. Sometimes, there are two Full Moons in a month (the second one is sometimes called a blue moon), although February can never have a second Full Moon.
The table below gives special names for each Full Moon. Each name reflects a unique facet of South African heritage.
|First Full Moon
|Second Full Moon
|Blue Crane Moon
South Africa is home to a bewildering diversity of animals, big and small. The first Full Moon of the year is the Mantis Moon, named after the mysterious and beautiful Praying Mantis insect, which features prominently in the stories of the San and the Khoi. The second Full Moon in January is the Leopard Moon, named for the graceful leopard, second-largest of our big cats and one of only four cats that can ROAR!
In March we celebrate the fact that Africa feeds our bodies and our souls. The Harvest Moon (first Full Moon of the month) celebrates the rich bounty of crops: summer grains (a staple food source in South Africa) and the last of the grape harvest (the source of our delicious and internationally famous wines). The Ochre Moon (a second Full Moon of the month) celebrates the mineral ochre, used for personal adornment and to create beautiful and symbol-rich rock art.
April celebrates treasures from deep beneath the earth. The April Full Moon is the Diamond Moon, because South Africa is where the largest diamond in the world was found (near Pretoria in 1905). The second Full Moon in April is known as the Gold Moon, to celebrate South Africa’s present day thriving gold mining industry as well as those ancient gold miners and artists whose beautiful 13th-century artefacts were found at Mapongubwe.
The amazing and varied traditions and customs of our nation are highlighted in September with the celebration of National Heritage Month. This is also the time when we celebrate the beginning of new life with the advent of spring. The first Full Moon in September is the Spring Moon, and the second Full Moon in September is the Blue Crane Moon, in honour of our National Bird.
Two of the most important animal products in the story of South Africa are milk and wool. Milk was the major protein source in the diet of the pastoral KhoiKhoi, and South Africa is the 11th largest wool producer in the world. In honour of these life-affirming natural bounties, the first Full Moon in November is the Milk Moon, and the second Full Moon in November is the Wool Moon.
Two of South Africa’s most magnificent antelopes are celebrated this month: the springbok (our National Animal and also the emblem of the national rugby team) and the eland (the largest antelope in Africa). The first Full Moon in December is the Springbok Moon, and the second Full Moon in December is the Eland Moon.
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