The lunar calendar has influenced human culture since time immemorial. And 2019 will be no exception. This year, the Moon is busy! March’s full moon, also known as the “Full Worm Moon” (more on this later), will reach its peak on the very same day as the vernal equinox, which signifies the official beginning of spring. The vernal, or “spring,” equinox is one of two moments in the year when the sun is exactly above the equator. On this day, day and night are of equal length.
You have to admit, there’s something very cosmically compelling about that.
The March full moon and spring equinox will both appear on March 20, 2019. This natural synchronicity last occurred in March of 2000 when the full moon and the spring equinox happened within just four hours of one another. The two haven’t occurred on March 20, however—the most common date for the spring equinox—since 1981.
March, an exceptionally eventful month for lunar activity, also heralds the final supermoon of 2019.
If an almost magical synchronicity weren’t enough, the full moon of March 20 is also a supermoon, meaning that the Moon will be closer than it usually is to Earth throughout the duration of the month. The Moon will appear bigger and brighter than usual, provided the night sky is clear and dark. Although rest assured, this stunning cosmic spectacle is completely benign! March’s supermoon will be the third and final of 2019’s supermoons. We’ve been spoiled.
Easter Sunday (according to the Western Christian Church) is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon that coincides with, or follows, the spring equinox. As we’ve discovered, both will fall on March 20 this year. So does this mean that Easter Sunday falls on Sunday, March 24? Well, no. For the sake of simplicity, the Church set a fixed date for the equinox: March 21. The date of the astronomical full moon is liable to change, of course, so the Church relies instead upon the ecclesiastical full moon. This occurs, more predictably, on the 14th day of the ecclesiastical lunar month every year.
Have we lost you?
Let’s marry the two together! The ecclesiastical full moon occasionally falls a couple of days before the astronomical full moon. The first astronomical full moon, after March 21, won’t occur until April 19 this year. Therefore, Easter Sunday of 2019 will be recognized on Sunday, April 21. It’s not the first time we’ve had to do the math: the incongruence between the dates of the astronomical and ecclesiastical equinox last affected the celebration of Easter back in 1981. It will happen again in 2038.
And what of the “Full Worm Moon?” we hear you say. We promised we’d come back to that.
Traditional Native American names for full moons were often used to keep track of the seasons, and referred in some meaningful way to the month in which the full moon occurred. March’s full moon is called the “Full Worm Moon.” March, naturally, heralds the beginning of spring, and as such a resurgence of life and bounty after the calm hibernation of winter. The ground softens and earthworms reappear, signifying fertile earth. Not to mention, the earthworms provide nourishment for the birds that have long subdued their appetites through the cold, barren winter.
This year, there will be a Full Moon on the Spring Equinox! But that’s not all: March’s full Worm Moon will also be the…
The March moon was also once referred to as the “Full Sap Moon,” with a nod to the emerging sap of sugar maple trees in springtime.
Are you an outdoorsy type? If so, here are some of March’s most important dates for outdoor activities provided by The Old Farmer’s Almanac and based on the phases of the lunar calendar: For planting crops above ground, get your hands dirty on March 15 and 16. For crops beneath the soil, you’ll need to begin on March 5. March 23 and 24 are also auspicious. For incubating eggs, preference March 21, 22, and 29. Go fishing on March 6 and 20.
It’s set to be an eventful month. Excuse the pun, but frankly, we’re over the moon.
How will you be celebrating the supermoon and the spring equinox? Share your thoughts about March’s lunar calendar with us—we’d love to hear!