Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friday the 13th, Full Moons, and Honeymoons

Well, it's Friday the 13th, and we have a full moon shining down on Chicago. 

So far it's been an ordinary day, no freaky accidents, no weird happenings, just another normal Friday in June.

Okay, maybe not a totally ordinary day if you're a soccer fan. You have to admit, it's just a little bit freaky when the Netherlands, ranked 15th in the FIFA World Cup standings, beats the number one ranked team, Spain, by a score of 5 to 1. It wasn't just a win, it was a massacre, which only accentuates the unexpectedness of such an accomplishment.

Some people claim that a full moon brings out bizarre behavior in people. When full moons fall on a Friday the 13th, the behavior is said to be even odder and often influenced, or accompanied, by the curse of bad luck. In short, if staying healthy is your main goal, you wouldn't want a black cat to cross your path as you walked under a ladder on a full moon Friday the 13th. Study after study has debunked these theories, but the myths persist in many cultures around the globe. 

Putting all myths aside, what's interesting to me is that this particular full moon is what's known as a "honey" moon. Honey moons happen in June around the summer solstice when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and the moon is low in the sky and nearest to the horizon. Dust and pollution in the atmosphere interfere with the length of the light waves, causing the normally whitish moon to look more honey-yellow in color. Something similar happens in the fall, but then we call those large orange-colored orbs "harvest'' moons. 

Andrew Fazekas, who writes for National Geographic, says that June's honey-colored moons may be responsible for our use of the term "honeymoon" because so many wedding ceremonies were traditionally celebrated during that month. He quotes astronomer Bob Berman as saying, "That phrase dates back nearly half a millennium, to 1552, but one thing has changed: Weddings have shifted and are now most often held in August or September. The idea back then was that a marriage is like the phases of the moon."

Tonight's honey moon has special meaning for me. My youngest daughter is marrying in August, and tomorrow, June 14th, we'll be celebrating her wedding shower. It seems appropriate that a honey moon should decorate the night sky on an evening when she's contemplating her own honeymoon.

And if that sounds to you like the words of a hopeless romantic, you just might be right. :)

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