The March full Moon has one of the most unexpected names—the “Worm Moon.” Full Moon names often showcase seasonal highlights, such as May’s “Flower Moon” or September’s “Harvest Moon” or even animals common to each season, such as July’s “Buck Moon” or August’s “Sturgeon Moon.” But worms? Why do these invertebrates matter so much in March?
March 2024 Full Moon: Monday, March 25
Peak Illumination: 3:00 a.m. EDT
Why Is The March Full Moon The “Worm” Moon?
The “Worm Moon” got its name because in March the soil begins to warm and the very first signs of life begin to return as earthworms, beetle larvae, and grubs emerge from their winter dormancy. These invertebrates are some of the very earliest spring food sources for birds and animals, including bears, skunks, and other animals emerging from hibernation. The castings (vermicasts, waste from earthworms) left behind enrich the soil and make it possible to begin planting and gardening after winter’s end.
More March Moon Names
March has a wide variety of names for the full Moon because there are many different things happening as winter ends and spring begins. Names vary depending on their origins from ancient cultures or Native American tribes, regional climates, geography, and even individual dialects.
Many northern cultures have end-of-winter names for the March full Moon, such as the “Snow Crust Moon” or “Hard Crust on the Snow Moon” from the Ojibwe and Chippewa tribes near the Great Lakes. During March, deep snow thaws during warm days but refreezes during cold nights, creating a brittle crust on top of the snow.
Another late-winter name for the March full Moon is the “Sore Eye Moon.” This is common among several Native American peoples, including the Sioux, Lakota, and Assiniboine of the Great Plains, northern plains, and Dakotas. In these areas, bright sunlight of the late winter and early spring reflects off remaining snow, creating snow blindness or eye soreness.
As the weather shifts into early spring, strong winds are common as air temperatures rise. The Choctaw and Cherokee of the southeastern US, as well as the Catawba of South Carolina, call the March full Moon the “Wind Moon” because of this. Similar names are found in Celtic culture with “Moon of Winds.” In desert areas of the southwestern US, the March full Moon is the “Moon of the Whispering Wind” from the Hopi, or the “Little Sand Storm Moon” from the Zuni tribe.
“Spring Moon” is a more generic term occasionally applied to the full Moon in March, particularly with the Inupiat in Alaska and the Passamaquoddy of the northeastern US, while the Creek of the southeast use “Little Spring Moon” as a general description. Some cultures also recognize specific aspects of spring with the monthly name, such as “Moon When the Leaves Break Forth” from the Pueblo peoples of the southwest.
One critical aspect of spring food is when sap rises in trees, permitting sap collection to make maple syrup and maple sugar. The Ojibwe of southern Canada call the March full Moon the “Sugar-Making Moon” to note that importance, and likewise, the Shawnee of Ohio and Pennsylvania use the term “Sap Moon” this month.
In more southerly areas where spring may arrive in very early March the name “Strawberry Moon” may be used this month, which is one name the Catawba tribe of South Carolina and the Cherokee of North Carolina occasionally use. This is more often reserved for June’s full Moon, however, when the appearance of wild strawberries is much more widespread.
Animal Names for the March Full Moon
Not all names for the full Moon of March are based on seasonal weather patterns or plants. Several cultures use animal names, such as the “Crow Moon” to note the cawing of crows as they seek spring mates and define their territories after winter ends. This is a common March Moon name among the Ojibwe of southern Canada.
Seasonal animal patterns also contribute to Moon names. The Arapaho, whose livelihood revolved around the movements and lifespan of the buffalo, call the March full Moon the “Buffalo Dropping Their Calves Moon” to note the spring birthing season.
Just as many animals rely on the “Worm Moon” as an early food source, some tribes also noted spring food sources in different names for the March full Moon. The Algonquin of the Great Lakes region use the name “Catching Fish Moon” since fish are one of the most plentiful food sources in early spring before plants begin to grow and when other hunting remains scarce. This was also a common name used by American colonists.
Speaking of catching fish … Want to catch a big one? Try the Farmers’ Almanac Fishing Calendar
Unexpected March Full Moon Names
There are some even more unexpected names for this month’s full Moon than the “Worm Moon.” Because seasons and plant cycles are vastly different in the southern hemisphere, names south of the equator would naturally vary. “Corn Moon” and “Harvest Moon” are common names for the March full Moon in South Africa and other southern hemisphere regions.
The “Chaste Moon” is another unique option for the March full Moon. This name is used in neo-Pagan circles and refers to the purity of the season as life renews after winter. The “Chaste Moon” was also a common name in medieval English.
With so many options of what to call the March full Moon, there is a name to suit every culture, interest, and region as the Moon reaches its peak in the third month.
Join The Discussion
What is your favorite name for March’s full Moon?
If you could rename the Worm Moon, what would you call it?
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Melissa Mayntz is a writer who specializes in birds and birding, though her work spans a wide range—from folklore to healthy living. Her first book, Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds was published in 2020. Mayntz also writes for National Wildlife Magazine and The Spruce. Find her at MelissaMayntz.com.