Update: Today marks this year's summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the one on which the sun reaches its highest point, and for the first time in almost 70 years, it coincides with the strawberry moon. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, full moons in June came to be known as "strawberry moons" because they were believed by Algonquin tribes to signify the beginning of strawberry-picking season. They tend to be particularly beautiful, as the humidity in the air this time of year can make strawberry moons glow amber, so remind yourself to look up tonight — and reacquaint yourself with some delightful full-moon beliefs, ahead, some of which have merit and others of which are nothing but myth.
This story was originally published on July 11, 2014.
You've probably noticed the night sky getting progressively brighter this week; that's because Saturday is July's full moon. Throughout history, people have blamed mysterious events on the enigmatic workings of the lunar cycle. It’s no coincidence that “lunacy” and “lunar” sound alike: “Lunacy” derives from the Latin “lunaticus,” madness understood as a consequence of the full moon. Yes, the moon was thought to literally drive people crazy. During the Middle Ages, we blamed insanity, epilepsy, fevers, and of course werewolves and vampires on the full moon. While “lunatic” is no longer the correct term for someone who’s acting abnormally (in 2012, President Obama actually signed a law banning the word from legislative language), our belief in the moon's mysterious powers persists.
To prepare you for Saturday’s witching hour, we’re breaking down five of the most widespread beliefs about the full moon's effects. Do crime rates really go up during a full moon? Do your periods sync with the lunar cycle? And, can you blame feeling crazy on the nighttime sky? Read on to find out.