January - The Wolf Moon

The first full moon of the year is the wolf moon. This is the name that was given to the January full moon by Medieval Europeans and Native Americans as it is the time of year when wolves howl their loudest.

Wolf moon

It is perhaps not surprising given the folklore which has inseparably linked wolves with the moon. To some extent it is true that wolves howl at the moon, but this is only because wolves are nocturnal and they tend to howl upwards, towards the sky, to make the sound carry. In addition there is no scientific evidence that wolves howl more at a full moon than any other moon.

However, what is without question is that wolves make more noise in January and February as this is their breeding season in both Europe and North America.

Other equally old names exist for the January full moon including the ice moon, old moon and snow moon, although the latter is generally used to refer to the February full moon.