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The Wolf Moon Is Coming—But WTF Does That Mean, Exactly?

a wolf on a green background under a full moon
So, What’s a “Wolf Moon,” Anyway?Getty/Margie Rischiotto

If you follow the ~lunar cycle~ (*raises hand*), you’ll know that the first Full Moon of 2024 will occur on January 25 in the sign of Leo. If you’re reading up on this Full Moon, you might see some articles or TikToks talking about the “Wolf Moon.” But what does that mean? Let’s talk about it:

What is the Wolf Moon?

Simple: The Wolf Moon is a traditional name for a Full Moon that occurs in January. The Moon is full every 29-ish days, which means most months have one Full Moon (on the rare occasions when two Full Moons occur in one calendar month, the second is called a Blue Moon). In the United States, each month’s Full Moon has traditional names tied to the weather, plants that are in season, or animals that you might see around that time of year. These traditional names are listed in the Farmer’s Almanac, which writes that these names “come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources.”

Why is it called the Wolf Moon?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “It’s thought that January’s Full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more likely to be heard howling at this time.” However, we now know that wolves don’t actually howl more in January than any other month.

What are other names for January’s Full Moon?

The Wolf Moon isn’t the only traditional name for a Full Moon in January. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, many Native American tribes have different names for the Full Moon in January. These includes the Center Moon (Assiniboine), Cold Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Moon (Cree), Great Moon (Cree), Freeze Up Moon (Algonquin), Sever Moon (Dakota), Hard Moon (Dakota), Canada Goose Moon (Tlingit), Greeting Moon (Western Abenaki), and Spirit Moon (Ojibwe).

Which zodiac sign is the Wolf Moon in?

In 2024, the Wolf Moon occurs in the sign of Leo. Depending on when in January the Full Moon falls, the Wolf Moon can occur in either the sign of Leo or the sign of Cancer. This is because a Full Moon occurs when the Sun and the Moon are in opposite zodiac signs. In January, the Sun starts out in Capricorn before moving into Aquarius around January 20 (this date can vary slightly, depending on the year). If the first Full Moon of the year occurs when the Sun is in Capricorn, the Full Moon will be in Cancer. If the Full Moon occurs when the Sun is in Aquarius, the Full Moon will be in Leo.

When is the Wolf Moon in 2024?

In 2024, the Wolf Moon occurs on January 25. It reaches exact fullness at 12:54 P.M. Eastern Time. This means that it will appear full on both the night of January 24 and the night of January 25. If you observe the Full Moon with rituals, journaling, meditation, or any other way, either night (or both!) is a good time to mark the Full Moon.

What’s my horoscope for the Wolf Moon?

You can read your horoscope for the Full Moon in Leo right here:

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