March’s Full Moon is known as the Worm Moon, which was originally thought to refer to the earthworms that appear as the soil thaws in Spring. This itself leads to the appearance of robins, chats and other worm eating birds.
An alternative explanation for this name comes from Captain Jonathan Carver, an 18th-century explorer, who wrote that this Moon name refers to a different sort of “worm”—beetle larvae—which begin to emerge from the thawing bark of trees and other winter hideouts at this time.
There are other names for this particular Full Moon all of which herald the transition from Winter into Spring. Such names include:
- Crow Comes Back Moon.
- Sugar Moon – marking the time of year when the sap of sugar maples trees starts to flow.
- Wind Strong Moon – referring to the strong windy days that come at this time of year.
- The Sore Eyes Moon – from North Dakota where the blinding rays of sunlight reflect off the melting snow of late winter.
March’s full Moon often plays a role in religion too. Specifically, in Christianity, this Moon is known as the Lenten Moon if it is the last Full Moon of the winter season (i.e.: if it occurs before the Spring equinox) or as the Paschal Full Moon if it is the first Full Moon of Spring (i.e.: if it occurs after the Spring equinox). This year we have a Paschal Full Moon.
Easter is a different date every year and some remember the date as 3 weeks after Mother’s Day. Another way to remember when Easter falls is that Easter is always observed on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first Full Moon that occurs on or after the March equinox…. well almost…
The ecclesiastical dates of the Full Moon and the March equinox are those used by the Christian Church. They were defined long ago in order to aid in the calculation of Easter’s date, which means that they may differ from the astronomical dates of these events.
In A.D. 325, a Full Moon calendar was created that did not take into account all the factors of lunar motion that we know about today. The Christian Church still follows this calendar, which means that the date of the ecclesiastical Full Moon may be one or two days off from the date of the astronomical Full Moon.
Additionally, the astronomical date of the equinox changes over time, but the Church has fixed the event in their calendar to March 21st. This means that the ecclesiastical date of the equinox will always be March 21st, even if the astronomical date is March 19th or 20th.
This year, the March equinox occurred on Saturday, 20th March. The first Full Moon to occur after that date is March’s Full Worm Moon, on Sunday, 28th March. This makes March’s Full Moon the Paschal Full Moon as well. Therefore, Easter will be observed on the first Sunday after March 28: Sunday, 4th April! 🙂
It’s a period of new beginnings. Look for the spectacularly bright Moon as it rises above the horizon on Saturday evening!