Moon and Myths: Superstitions Surrounding the Full Moon


There was a full “strawberry” moon this past Friday on June 13, sparking the superstition and intrigue. There are many myths and superstitions surrounding the full moon. A full moon rising on Friday the 13 is a very rare occurrence, with the next predicted to happen by NASA in August 2049. The last Friday the 13 full moon happened in October 2000. This June moon was particularly extraordinary because it was a “strawberry” moon, which gets its name from the reddish color and the fact that, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, June is strawberry season.

In folklore, there are many myths about full moons and Friday the 13 that have led to superstitions surrounding this particular moon. An ancient Babylonian manuscript prescribes that women are more fertile during a full moon. Many women today believe that their menstrual cycles correspond to the moon. There is also a superstition that more women go into labor during the full moon. However, this belief has not been confirmed by scientific studies. In ancient Greece, Diana the Goddess of the Hunt was associated with both the moon and child-birth, demonstrating that this is an ancient association held by humans over many eras.

The most common myth surrounding the full moon is that it evokes madness. The word “lunacy” stems from the root “lunar”, which describes the moon. From old stories of werewolves to myths about a higher rate of insanity homicide, and suicide, lunacy affected by the full moon appears frequently in old folklore. There have been studies to try and link these behaviors with the full moon occurring, but as of now, there is no statistically significant relationship between the full moon and insane or anti-social behavior. Because the moon is such a powerful astronomical force that affects the earth’s tides and allows humans to track their lives according to a lunar monthly cycle, superstitions about the full moon are still popular today. For example, some people believe that there is a link between the full moon and seizures, or the full moon and the appearance of black cats. Some people believe that there must be a strong link between the moon and human behavior because of how much the moon affects the earth from a physical standpoint.

The fact that the full moon happened on Friday the 13 also brings up a whole slew of folkloric myths and superstitions. While the moon is associated with madness, Friday the 13 is primarily associated with bad luck. Friday has been associated with bad luck because of Chaucer’s 14th century English novel The Canterbury Tales, in which many of the characters regarded Friday as an inauspicious day to attempt to travel, work, or start any new projects. 13 is considered an unlucky number in itself, primarily due to ancient religious numerology. In many numerology systems, the number 12 is associated with chronological completion, such as the twelve days of the year, the twelve hours in day, the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jesus’s twelve apostles. If 12 is completion, than 13 represents disorder and imbalance. Both Friday and the number 13 have been associated with bad luck throughout the ages.

Whether one believes in the myths and superstitions surrounding the moon or not, this past “strawberry” moon on Friday, June 13th was quite a spectacular sight.

By Louise Webster

ABC News
CBS News
The Skeptic’s Dictionary

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