Olivia Harvey
September 11, 2019 6:30 am
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On Saturday, September 14th, just after midnight at 12:33 a.m. EDT, the Full Harvest Moon will reach its peak fullness in the night sky. However, September’s full moon isn’t always identified as the Harvest Moon: October’s full moon is sometimes called the Harvest Moon, too. So, what signifies this upcoming moon as a Harvest Moon?

According to Almanac.com, the Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal equinox, which occurs on either September 22nd or 23rd. (This year, the equinox falls on Monday, September 23rd.) September’s full moon peaks on the 14th this year, and October’s full moon doesn’t peak until October 13th, therefore September’s moon is, ta-da, the Harvest Moon.

And it’s during the Harvest Moon that crops are…you guessed it…harvested.

When September’s full moon is not the closest to the autumnal equinox, it’s commonly called the Full Corn Moon because it’s during this time of year that Native Americans and early settlers harvested their corn crops. For the same reason, September’s moon is also sometimes called the Full Barley Moon.

The Lakota Sioux people dubbed September’s moon the “Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet,” the Omaha people called it the “Moon When the Deer Paw the Earth,” and the Sioux refer to it as the “Moon When the Calves Grow Hair.”

Many cultures worldwide still celebrate the autumnal equinox, which is the second day of the year when we have an equal amount of daylight and nighttime. Then, after the autumnal equinox, we experience nights growing longer and days growing shorter until the Winter Solstice on December 21st or 22nd. (This year, the solstice falls on the 21st).

It’s during this phase of the year that we begin to ready ourselves for the cold months ahead and embrace the darkness that comes with it.

And the death that comes with it, too. Which doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, as this picture of fall foliage proves.

Historically, Egyptians would take part in the ceremony of Lighting the Fire, a ritual that honored the gods and goddesses as well as the spirits of the dead, as D.J. Conway, author of Moon Magick, writes. In China, the festival of Yue-ping took place between September’s new moon and the full moon, and honored Ch’ang-O, the moon goddess.

And in Taiwan and South Korea, people would celebrate Chuseok, the moon festival, to give thanks and honor the spirits of the dead.

Although the air is getting cooler and our summer days are waning, there’s still a lot to love about autumn. Step outside on the evening of the Full Harvest Moon’s peak and prepare yourself for the excitement fall has to offer.

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