Heritage Full Moons

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.

Photo by Angus Burns.

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.

MonthFirst Full MoonSecond Full Moon
JanuaryMantis MoonLeopard Moon
FebruaryDassie Moon——
MarchHarvest MoonOchre Moon
AprilDiamond MoonGold Moon
MayFrost MoonFire Moon
JuneSisters MoonHoney Moon
JulyMeerkat MoonProtea Moon
AugustPeace MoonDusty Moon
SeptemberSpring MoonBlue Crane Moon
OctoberWhale MoonElephant Moon
NovemberMilk MoonWool Moon
DecemberSpringbok MoonEland Moon

January: Mantis 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!

February: Dassie Moon

In February we continue to celebrate iconic South African animals. The Full Moon this month is the Dassie Moon, named for the charming rock hyrax, the nearest living relative to the African elephant and, in /Xam mythology, the wife of Mantis.

March: Harvest Moon

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: Diamond Moon

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.

May: Frost Moon

May heralds the end of autumn and the coming of the cold times, so the first May Full Moon is the Frost Moon, and the infrequent second Full Moon in May is the Fire Moon.

June: Sisters Moon

June is a time of great cold and also the time when stars hidden by the summer Sun, become visible again. To draw attention to these cyclical patterns, the first Full Moon of winter is the Sisters Moon, and the second Full Moon is the Honey Moon.

July: Meerkat Moon

South Africa’s wild kingdom boasts two celebrities: the meerkat (superstar of cuteness and mascot of cutting-edge science) and the spectacular protea (our National Flower). The Meerkat Moon is the first Full Moon in July, and the Protea Moon is the second Full Moon in the month.

August: Peace Moon

Resilience and overcoming challenge is the theme for August: the first Full Moon is the Peace Moon, to remind us that violence is unacceptable, and the second Full Moon is the Dusty Moon, a figurative reminder of the winds of change blowing across our cultural landscape.

September: Spring Moon

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.

October: Whale Moon

Full Moons are huge, and this month we celebrate the largest mammals on the planet. The first Full Moon is known as the Whale Moon, and the second Full Moon is the Elephant Moon.

November: Milk Moon

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.

December: Springbok 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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Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage

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