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Full Moon: A Global Celebration of Nature, Culture

By Faridat Salifu

Many cultures regard the full moon in May as a symbol of fertility, growth, and abundance, marking the beginning of summer in the western world, and a time for celebration and joy in African communities.

May full moon is also known as the “Flower Moon.” When it approaches, people around the world, particularly people in the western countries prepare to celebrate this celestial event, which holds deep cultural, and agricultural significance.

Historically, in the ancient times, the full moon was seen as a period of celebration, fertility, and abundance. Various cultures still uphold these traditions as of today.

However, for the agrarian societies all over the world, the full moon is a crucial marker for agricultural activities. The Harvest Moon, the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, is celebrated as a time for reaping and thanksgiving.

Farmers usually used the lunar phases as a guide for planting and harvesting crops, believing these cycles affect plant growth.
The full moon also features prominently in various cultural festivals. In Chinese culture, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated with mooncakes, lanterns, and family reunions, honouring the moon’s fullness and the harvest bounty.

In some societies, myths and legends often associate the full moon with fertility, transformation, and even madness—terms like “lunacy” derive from “luna,” the Latin word for moon.

Meanwhile, research shows that the full moon serves as a powerful reminder of nature’s rhythms and cycles. It fosters a sense of connection to nature and the cosmos, leading to celebrations that honour these natural patterns.

Astronomically, the full moon occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, making it fully illuminated. The Moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle, so the apparent size of the full moon can vary.

This event also affects Earth’s tides, ocean currents, and even the behaviour of some marine animals.

Occasionally, the full moon is called a “Blue Moon” when it occurs twice in a single month. Atmospheric conditions can make the full moon appear orange or reddish, especially during dust storms or wildfires.

Importantly, the full moon has been an important navigational aid for sailors and travellers across the world. In black Africa setting, particularly in our villages and hamlets, full moon nights provides natural illumination for different purposes such as community gathering, moonlight plays, celebrations and story telling by the elderly people in the communities.

As we bask in the radiant glow of May’s full moon, let’s embrace its symbolism of growth, abundance, and wonder, reflecting on the rich cultural heritage it represents.


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