When The Moon Hits Your Eye

Harvest moon shining behind Rocca Calascio Castle, Abruzzo, Italy on October 1, 2020. During this mo...
NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

What To Teach Your Kids About The Harvest Moon

Gather ‘round with your pumpkin coffees, children!

While I truly do love the long days of summer, there’s something to be said for the long nights of fall. I have three girls that love being outside, even if it’s dark, and sharing with the dark skies, the stars, and all of the fall full moons is one of my favorite things. The Harvest Moon is especially poignant — something about the fall equinox and the official start to those early nights — and having a bunch of kid facts about the Harvest Moon and fun family traditions is a must.

This year, the Harvest Moon will begin Sept. 28, but the 2023 fall equinox will be on Sept. 23, so you have about a week of peak fall astrology happenings. It’s not that anything super intensely magical is bound to happen, but I’m also not saying that anything super intensely magical won’t happen. So gather your PSL, your favorite sweater, and maybe a big hearty bowl of something delicious and teach your kids all about the gorgeousness and loveliness of the Harvest Moon. It actually has a great backstory.

What is the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox (which is Sept. 23 this year), rather than a full moon associated with a particular month. In 2023, it’s expected to last for about three days, starting the night of Thursday, Sept. 28 and hitting peak illumination right before 6 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, according to The Farmer’s Almanac.

Why is it called the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is named so because farmers would use the bright light to finish harvesting their crops through the night. Fall harvests were a huge deal, and having that extra light in the sky to finish their work was paramount.

What are the other names for the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is also known as the Full Corn Moon, Autumn Moon, Moon of Brown Leaves, Leaves Turning Moon, and Falling Leaves Moon. Most of the names have been passed down from Native American tribes.

Gary Hershorn/Corbis News/Getty Images

Why is the Harvest Moon so big?

The Harvest Moon is a Supermoon, which means that it’s a full moon that also happens to be closer to earth than usual. Supermoons are often about 14% bigger than a normal full moon, and they are a lot brighter, casting about 30% more light than usual onto earth.

Why is the Harvest Moon orange?

It’s not really orange — it’s all about perception. As the Harvest Moon is closer to the horizon, you’re seeing it through several atmospheric layers that give it that orange/reddish glow, according to the University of Toronto. It works well for September though.

How do you celebrate the Harvest Moon?

There are so many fun ways to enjoy the Harvest Moon, especially as a family. Full moons often represent completion and abundance as it officially ends another lunar cycle, so celebrating that and paying homage to the Harvest Moon is such a great tradition.

  • Make mooncakes. A mid-Autumn festival is observed widely throught Asia, including China, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. At these festivals, mooncakes are a traditional round, baked pastry that can be filled with either savory or sweet foods. They’re also decorated beautifully, and are a really lovely tradition to share with family and friends as you quarter the pastry to eat. Mooncake recipes are a lot of work, but so very worth it.
  • Make a bonfire. Fall is coming, and the Harvest Moon really represents that tradition to longer, cooler nights. Light a bonfire and enjoy some star and moongazing with your family.
  • Wake up early to see it when it’s most illuminated. Since the Harvest Moon will technically be in the sky for a few days, set an alarm to wake up at 5:58 a.m. EST on Friday, Sept. 29 and catch the Harvest Moon at its most splendid.
  • Have a delicious fall equinox dinner. Since the Harvest Moon is also representative of autumn’s last harvest, this is a great time to make a delicious recipe with fall equinox vibes. Think apples, pumpkins, potatoes, and all of the cozy feels.