The full Moon July 2024 comes when nature is in full-growth.Crops are either ripening or beginning to be harvested. The annual rite of you-pick strawberries wraps up in the beginning of the month and folks in the Midwest check to see if the corn is “knee high by the Fourth of July.” But why is the July full Moon traditionally known as the “Buck Moon” and what other names does this summer Moon go by in different cultures?
July 2024 Full Moon: Sunday, July 21
Peak Illumination: 6:17 a.m. Eastern Time
Why Is The July Full Moon The “Buck” Moon?
Male deer antlers begin to grow in late spring. Antlers grow as fast as ¼ inch per day or one and one half inches per week during this period making them the fastest growing bones in the world. Antlers grow from the pedicel in the buck’s skull. The lengthening daylight in spring triggers the hormones that start the growth each spring. Buck antlers can easily be spotted in full velvet come July. Unlike horns, antlers are bones made mostly of calcium and phosphorus that the deer shed after mating season. Buck antlers lose their velvety coating, usually within a 24-hour period, closer to mating season in fall.
The “Salmon” Moon – An Alternative July Full Moon Name
American Indians in Alaska, including the Haida and Tlingit dubbed the July full moon the “Salmon Moon” for its timing with salmon runs. The Wishram in the Pacific Northwest translates to “Salmon Go Up Rivers In A Group.” (Salmon migrate up rivers to spawn from spring through fall.) The sockeye salmon run typically begins in July and can last through October.
July is also a month when the summer runs of chinook and steelhead take place. Salmon spend anywhere from 1 to 6 years in the oceans before returning to their home rivers to spawn.
Gardening And Growth-Related July Full Moon Names
July’s moon is dubbed the “Time Of Much Ripening” by Mohawk in the Eastern Woodlands. There’s plenty of ripening happening across the United States. For the Shawnee in the Midwestern region, it is the Blackberry moon. (See our June Full Moon article for more berry-related names.) In the Northern Plains the Assiniboine noted the red berries while the Lakota named it “When The Chokecherries Are Black.” For the Algonquin from the Northeast to Great Lakes this is the moon when the “Squash Are Ripe.”
More broadly, the Zuni in New Mexico called it the “Limbs Are Broken By Fruit” Moon. Among Ojibwe it’s the “Blueberry Moon.” To the Oneida it is the “String Bean Moon.”
While the berries and fruits ripen, corn is various stages of readiness. The translation of the Cherokee Nation in the Carolinas is “Ripe Corn Moon.” Though corn in the Great Lakes region has a bit of time to go. The Potawatomi name this the “Moon Of The Young Corn.”
In Celtic culture the July moon names included “Wyrt,” “Herb” and/or “Mead Moon.” Wyrt is derived from an Old English word. A herbal garden in Old English language was a Wyrtyard. Wort is the modernized spelling of the word. Those familiar with the beer brewing process recognize wort as the sugary liquid drained from mash used during the fermentation process.
Gardeners and herbalists spot wort used in plant names like St. John’s wort, bishop’s wort and lousewort. Harvesting herbs should be done once the plants have enough foliage to maintain growth after cuttings. By July, most herbs can withstand harvesting.
In addition to medicinal and cooking applications of herbs, they can be used in the mead making process. Of course, one needs honey to ferment into the alcoholic drink. Come July, there’s plenty of nectar giving flowers in bloom for honeybees to make plenty of honey for mead making.
Hay bales are a staple of fall decorations, but July’s moon was known as the “Hay Moon” among Anglo Saxon culture.
Whatever it is called, the July full Moon is a time to appreciate the glory of summer ripeness!
Join The Discussion
What is your favorite name for July’s full Moon?
If you could rename the Buck Moon, what would you call it?
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Daniel Higgins is a lifestyle writer with two decades of experience who covers a wide variety of interests, from folklore to food and drink. Higgins writes for The New York Times, USA Today, and Yahoo News.