The Full moon of January or Wolf Moon is the name with which referred to the first full moon of the year, starting after the December solstice traditions that for many was precisely the moment when ended a year and began the new one. It is also known as Snow Moon. The name of Wolf Moon recalls how, in the cold and snowy winters, the wolf packs would move towards villages in search of food, and they did resonate their howling on full moon nights.
The cold and typical snow of this month induce chromatically this moon to bright white, while another animal like the wolf, the fox, is often identified with this Moon of the Wolf. The wolf by Native Americans was considered a symbol of power. It was revered as a guide and regarded as a comrade and a brother. The hunters called upon its spirit for help from its combative spirit and its senses sharp. The wolf has a strong sense of participation within the pack, and security, but at the same time experience a strong personality.
Yule with the Sun marked the turning point of its return, but the time from the full expression of its strength and its heat is still far away. The land is bare, the animals are mostly lethargic and vegetation appears wrapped in a deep sleep, covered for much of the time by a layer of ice that gives the idea of a great stillness.
Since the dawn of time, the moon has inspired the ancient religions and traditions of different peoples. The full moon represented prosperity, fertility and knowledge, so this period was considered as the best for undertaking new ventures. It was believed that on full moon nights the energy emanating from the moon was greater, and typically took place the magical rites. However, there were rituals related to every other phase of the moon.
The eventual thirteenth moon, was called a blue moon and was considered by some as the most powerful in a calendar year. In fact it is the second full moon occurring within a month, which happens only once every 3-5 years. Other traditions, however, dispute this nomenclature, emphasizing on the contrary as the lunar cycle is completely divorced from the calendar year and it's months.
In prehistoric times, life was regulated primarily by a large clock of the moon. From the rhythms of the moon came the concept of week and also of the month. It has always been difficult to coordinate the balance based on lunar phases with those made according to the rhythms of the sun. Hence the long and difficult history of the birth of the calendar.
There is close relationship and similarities between the lunar calendar and that of animal, human fertility and menstrual cycle. The explosion of vitality of nature coincide with the new moon of spring, and so rural activities, were put in relation with the lunar phases. Popular belief was indeed, that the moon could affect the date of delivery, the time of death, the fermentation of the must, the winery operations and the best time to plant or harvest.
According to ancient tradition, for example, people slaughtered the pig to start working its meat only on waning moon. Since antiquity the moon has always fascinated the man who in his changes read, among many others, the allegory of the instability of fortune and mood of people. For many people it has served to measure time, like the American Indians as for the Jew, whose calendar marks the beginning of the month with each new moon. In Jewish culture, the new moon is the first day of the month, called Rosh Chodesh, and is still seen by some as a feast for the women.
The countryside people has always recognized influences on crops and livestock. In traditional agricultural life many behaviors were governed by the alternation of the phases of our satellite. Very important meteorologically were two moons, one in March and one in September. Even the hair should be cut at old moon, if you want to avoid that grows back quickly.
According to the beliefs handed down by folk tradition, but also by actual experience from generation to generation through the centuries, you can see that the majority of old farmers hold in high esteem the lunar phases in the different agricultural practices like sowing, making dwelling, grafting, pruning, harvesting, vinification, cutting firewood, etc.
Planting and transplanting flowers was to be done with the crescent moon, as well as the planting of hedges and shrubs. With the phase of the waning moon were performed the winter and summer pruning of hedges. In the garden, bell pepper, tomato and eggplant were seeded at waning moon for higher production.
All transplants of species that are normally sown in seedbeds (bell pepper, basil, tomato, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, leek, onion, etc.) were done at the new moon or crescent moon. In this phase the seedlings rapidly exceed the so-called transplanting, have a good engraftment and good foliage. In the garden, the first fruits were always sown on the crescent moon.
On the field, cutting the hay was done at the waning moon, as it will dry more slowly but will keep better. The sowing of cereals and forage species was performed at the crescent moon.
In the cellar, the crushing of grapes to the fermentation was the fastest during crescent moon, while with the waning moon fermentation was slower and more regular. The racking and bottling are always made in the waning moon. If the wine is bottled at the crescent moon, the wine is not stable. It can resume the fermentation and wine may remain unclear. Who wants a sparkling product must be bottled at the crescent moon.
On farms, slaughter of pigs and the production of sausages, hams, coppa, pancetta, etc. were best done in the waning moon.
Snow moon came out in the middle of the winter season. It is the fourth moon of a lunar year cycle and starts, with the New Moon, always in January. The food supplies were now counted, the wood starts to have to be measured, if the winter was long, to suffer the cold. In some years the frost arrived persistently touching many degrees below zero.
The ground is hard, cold, apparently dead. Resistance on this month was the last effort before the expected arrival of the new season. Snow moon crossed almost every year the Sabbath of Imbolc. It invites the light and warmth to come back, and invite the blessing of the Celtic goddess Brigid to bring fertility to the earth again. It was the time of the forecasts and predictions for the upcoming new season, and was the period for calculating the favorable time for sowing.
Other names of this moon were the Storm Moon, Wild Moon, Hunger Moon, Stimulating Moon, Great Moon, the Moon with the Horns, Bear Moon and Old Moon.
Harvest Moon was the occasion for the last harvest. With grapes there are the last fruits before winter. It was time to relax, devoting to the harmony between body and spirit, going back as much as possible in contact with nature.