December: Eland Moon

The eland is possibly South Africa’s most magnificent antelope and is the largest antelope in Africa. It is the second largest antelope in the world after the moose (Alces alces).

The eland was of special importance to the San-people, being created by /Kaggen, the Mantis. For the San generally, but for the /Xam in particular, the eland was uniquely significant. In their tradition all other animals were servants to the eland. When he created the eland, Mantis fed the eland brood combs, the structure of cells in a bee hive where the queen bee lays eggs. They say, “that is why he is dark, because he remembers that he has eaten the dark brood combs.”

In creating the eland, the Mantis was creating not just his favourite animal, but also the foundation for San contact with the supernatural, and for the San as a distinct people: not just their shaman, all of them were “of the Eland”.

The Eland (Taurotragus oryx) was previously much more widely distributed in South Africa. Due to human development and over-utilization it is under considerable pressure. As far back as 1806 the early traveller, John Barrow, remarked that “… the farmers had almost destroyed the eland by their inconsiderate hunts”. An early Western missionary quite correctly commented that the eland surpassed all other antelope in beauty and moved among them like a king.

The Eland Moon in December occurs only once during the period 2020–2050.

The first Full Moon in December is the Springbok Moon.


Date of Eland Moon (2020–2050)

2028 Dec 31, 18:48


Further reading

  • Bank, A. (2006) Bushmen in a Victorian world. The remarkable story of the Bleek-Lloyd Collection of Bushman Folklore. Double Storey Books.
  • Lewis-Williams, J.D. (2015) Myth and Meaning: San-Bushman Folklore in a Global Context. UCT Press / Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.
  • Skotnes, P. (2007) Claim To The Country. The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek. Jacana Media.


Heritage Full Moons in South Africa

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

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage