Who would have guessed that the August moon is named after a primitive bottom feeding fish? To me it looks like a homely catfish or its brother. The sturgeon goes back to the days of dinosaurs and way before. They have been around 150 million years. Something I can’t even imagine! They were an important fish to the Algonquin tribe for food and for survival. Today they are critically endangered due to overfishing, poaching, and pollution. Their roe (fish eggs) are taken and processed into caviar. 90% of today’s commercial caviar market comes from sturgeon.
They’re an interesting fish. They can live over 100 years and are one of the largest fish. Back in 1827 a sturgeon was caught that measured 24 feet and weighed over 3400 pounds. Just this year in the Detroit River a much smaller but still impressive sturgeon was caught and released. It measured almost 7 feet and weighed 240 pounds. If laid on its side next to an average man it would be a foot taller! The Fish and Wildlife people were certainly surprised to learn of it and estimated that it was a female and over 100 years old. Sturgeons are making a comeback in the Great Lakes area and can be found in other places like the Columbia River from June to September. However, they are not common and it is doubtful that you or I will ever see one during a Sturgeon Full Moon.
Also in China the August moon is called Hungry Ghosts Full Moon. There is a belief that during this month hell opens up and the hungry dead are out walking among the living for 30 days. The main event, the Hungry Ghost Festival, falls directly in the middle of the 7th lunar month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. So from what I’ve read it could be under August or September’s moon depending on the time. How do they celebrate during the festival? The people believe that they should offer food, money, or entertainment to please the ghosts so they will not “trick.” It has been referred to as the Chinese Halloween. At the performances and in front of the stages they leave the first row empty for the ghosts! Under the light of the full moon the Chinese go out to the rivers and lakes. They light lotus shaped water lanterns and put them out on the water to guide the lost souls.
Some other names for an August moon are the Green Corn Full Moon or the Grain Full Moon. These names speak of the beginning of a bountiful harvest. The Native Americans thought of many names. The Cherokee called it the Fruit Moon. Other tribes called it the Black Berries Moon. It can also be called the Full Red Moon by tribes further south. The haze of late summer gave the rising moon a reddish glow. The Sioux probably said it best—it is the Moon When All Things Ripen.