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Maple Sugar Moon—The Mi'qmaw Year

DChapman's picture

Today is March 1, St. David’s Day (patron saint of Wales).

It is also New Moon, and the start of a new lunation for the lunar observers out there. The crescent Moon won’t be placed well in the sky until at least Sunday night, and we may have to wait for the weather to clear before we actually observe the young Moon in Nova Scotia.

It is also the start of Siwkewik’us, the Maple Sugar Moon of the Mi’kmaq. This moon (in the sense of “time”) is the harbinger of Spring, and the Full Maple Moon is that closest to the Vernal Equinox, March 16 and 20, respectively. Working on the aboriginal moons project with Cathy LeBlanc (Acadia First Nation), we both now feel much more aware of the actual cycle of the Moon phases in the sky as a means of sensing the passage of time and the change of the seasons. To see the crescent Moon appear in the evening sky seems much more real to me than changing the page of a calendar.

There are two New Moons in March, today and March 30, fairly rare, except there were also two New Moons in January, and none in February! But these are not astronomical facts, just quirks of our civil calendar, whose months have been disconnected with the actual moon phases and have been augmented (except for February!) so that 12 months make a year.

In the aboriginal lunar year, between 12 and 13 moons make a year, and Cathy and I have to discuss what happens at the end of this year, as the Full Moon nearest the Winter Solstice is very late! What will we call the Full Moon that occurs early in the civil month of December?  Stay tuned!