Pink Moon: What are the origins, significance of April's full moon?

It's a unique sight that goes by many names throughout cultures and is often used to coincide with the season of spring and the spring holidays of Easter, Ramadan and Passover.

 Is this the Pink Moon of April? (Illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Is this the Pink Moon of April? (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

People all over the world Saturday night managed to look up in the night sky and witness a sight known to many as the Pink Moon.

It's a unique sight that goes by many names throughout cultures and is often used to coincide with the season of spring and the spring holidays of Easter, Ramadan and Passover, along with other religious traditions.

But what is the Pink Moon? Why does it happen? What does it all mean?

Here is everything you need to know.

 The Earth and the Moon (Illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY) The Earth and the Moon (Illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY)
What is the Pink Moon? Where does the name Pink Moon come from?

The Pink Moon is, simply put, the full moon of spring. 

The name itself first came to the public in the 1930s when the Maine Farmer's Almanac published the Native American names of the Moon for each month. Pink Moon specifically referred to the full moon in April. 

That name itself is derived from the herb moss pink, one of the first flowers of spring in the eastern US. It does have other names in Native American traditions, ranging from Breaking Ice Moon to Moon When the Ducks Come Back and Moon When the Streams Are Again Navigable, among others, but Pink Moon is what caught on with the public.

But is the Pink Moon even pink?

No. It's just a full moon called Pink Moon. It can sometimes appear a different color when the sunlight reflects off it at the right time, and that color might even appear pink to some, but that is in no way relevant to it being the Pink Moon.

But is there anything specifically special about the Pink Moon compared to other full moons?

No, at least not inherently.

In both 2020 and 2021, the Pink Moon just so happened to also be a Supermoon. This term refers to when the full moon coincides with the time when the Moon is at its closest to the Earth. As a result, it makes the Moon appear larger and sometimes more vibrant. 

But that didn't happen this year.

More Supermoons will happen in 2022, specifically in June and July, or to use the Native American names provided by the Almanac, the Strawberry Moon and the Buck Moon, respectively.

May's full moon, known as the Flower Moon will also be a special sight in 2022 as it will be a total lunar eclipse. This will see sunlight cause the Moon to appear a shade of red or reddish brown. As such, it is often known as a Blood Moon.

 Blood moon during the July 27, 2018 total eclipse.  (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Blood moon during the July 27, 2018 total eclipse. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

However, 2022's Pink Moon is just a normal full moon.

Is there anything special about the Pink Moon though?

Yes, it holds important religious significance in different cultures that are still very relevant today.

In Christianity, the Pink Moon is often known as the Paschal Moon, as it is this year, where it marks the first full moon after the spring equinox. This is important, as the Paschal Moon is used to set the date for Easter.

In Judaism, the Pink Moon is identified as the Passover Moon. The Jewish religion uses a lunar calendar where the beginning and end of each month is a new moon and the full moon typically shows up on the 15th of each month. As Passover begins on the 15th of the month of Nisan, the Pink Moon essentially helps mark the arrival of the holiday, though the advent of a fixed calendar has made this not as essential in the modern-day.

Islam also uses a lunar calendar, and the Pink Moon this year is in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Pink Moon also plays a role in other religions too.

In Hinduism, a lunar calendar typically sees March-April belong to the month of Caitra, the first month of the year. The full moon of this month, which is often the Pink Moon, often overlaps with a holiday commemorating the birth of the Hindu god Lord Hanuman, the divine monkey who features heavily in the Hindu epic the Ramayana. However, different areas of India sometimes celebrate it on different days.

In Buddhism, this Pink Moon also marks Bak Poya, a holiday celebrated heavily on Sir Lanka that marks the Buddha's second visit to the island.

The Moon holds a significant place in cultures and traditions worldwide, so the religious significance the Pink Moon has for many is, therefore, unsurprising.