The truth about the Wolf Moon

The first full moon of 2013 falls on January 26 in North America (or January 27th elsewhere in the world). 

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, "January is the month of the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages." (

Wolves may assemble more often in winter in order
to bring down bigger game.
"The Wolf Moon" is only one of the many names for the first full moon of the year (which often referred to the month of January itself, not just the actual moon). Each Native American tribe had their own name for it, such as the Frost Moon, the Cold Moon, the Elder Moon, the Moon of Hard Winter, etc. 

Some, like the Algonquins, called it the Wolf Moon because it was the time of year when wolves became the most visible. Others called the month of January the time of wolves running together.

Wulfmonath - the wolf month, according to the Saxons.
The Saxons called January Wulfmonath, the wolf month. According to the writings of Verstigan, “The month which we now call January, they called Wolf-monat, to wit, wolf-month, because people are wont always in that month to be in more danger to be devoured of wolves than in any season else of the year: for that, through the extremity of cold and snow, these ravenous beasts could not find of other beasts sufficient to feed upon.”

The Changelings in my PNR novels
left Scotland to escape the wolf
exterminations there.
The month of January is called Faoilleach in Old Scottish Gaelic. The ancient word comes from faol meaning a wolf. Although wolves don’t live in Scotland at present, they did until 300 years ago. In fact, they were considered such a danger in the 1500s that it was made mandatory by royal decree for every landowner to hunt wolves three times a year. 

Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France, has a wolf month too – but not until February. It’s called otsaila (otsa = wolf). Also, the Dacians, a Celtic tribe, were occasionally referred to as the Wolf Moon People by some of their neighbors.  

It's true - wolves generally mate for life. It's a feature that
they share with my fictional Changelings.
In some parts of Europe it was believed that if you said the word wolf in December, you would be attacked by one in January!

January may have been associated with wolves for other reasons. For one, it’s the beginning of the lupine mating season. Unlike dogs, wolves only breed once a year, and it’s usually only the alpha pair that produces pups. 

The howling of wolves is a sound I've been privileged to
hear often in northern Canadian winters. It is the
most primal sound I know of.

You're certainly more likely to hear wolves in January, or any of the winter months. Sound travels much further in the cold air. Plus the wolves might be more inclined to howl in winter, calling upon the pack to assemble to help bring down larger game. 

Today, the Wolf Moon exists mostly in popular culture. The only "official" titles for full moons in the year are the Harvest Moon, the Hunter's Moon, and more recently, the Blue Moon.

Wolves are more visible in the winter months.
But January is still a good month for wolves, and humans stand a better chance of seeing them then. With the leaves of the underbrush gone, plus the contrast of their coat color against the snow, wolves are definitely easier to spot in winter. They’re bolder too, usually out hunting rather than curled up in a sheltered spot.

Wolves are beautifully designed to
run in the snow.
Winter is usually a time of plenty for predators, and wolves are well designed for running down prey in cold weather. They have a long outer coat that sheds snow and water, and a thick undercoat that insulates them. Wolves have very large feet too, with front feet bigger than their hind feet. The result is good weight distribution on snow – they don’t sink into it the way that a deer or elk would. Plus the hair around each toe pad is very stiff and helps wolves to gain traction on ice.

So will wolves be howling at the Wolf Moon? In actuality, while wolves are often more active on moonlit nights - after all, they can see better - science says they don't howl at the lunar orb at all. Still, no one really knows what it's like to be a wolf, and I like to think that they do sometimes sing to the moon just for the pure joy of it.

Dani Harper is a published author, who writes about wolves and wolf-like creatures called Changelings. 

This is the recently released Black Wolf by Ganz.
Like all Webkinz, it's about 8.5" tall and comes with
secret code for the the "Webkinz World" website.
The code allows the user to own a virtual version
of the pet for online play.
Or, like me, you can just enjoy having this
cute wolf sitting on your desk!
Draw - Leave me a comment telling me what you like about wolves, or what you think about the Wolf Moon, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a black WEBKINZ wolf! 



Thanks to everyone who read my blog and/or left a comment. I truly appreciate it!


  1. I've always loved wolves. It's something about the eyes, I think, how intelligent they are. It's not like looking at your beloved family dog. It's more like looking into a soul. I'd love to actually hear one out in the wild someday.

    Email me at: trekkieturtle AT gmail DOT com. I think this blog might be linked to my other gmail account somehow...

  2. This was really interesting, I never knew the first full moon of January got called the Wolf moon but I love it! I've always had a soft spot for wolves, they're one of my favourite animals. There's just something about them that draws you in! So beautiful!
    suzi1811 @

  3. I've always loved wolves. I really admire the way they hold to their social structure. They are intelligent creatures that care for their family unit.
    Thank you for the excellent post and all the lovely photos :).

  4. I love this post and learning about "the wolf moon" I think next year we will make a big deal out of it with our kids. (Who are wolf lovers too)

    I have always loved wolves (From my teen years), they are the ultimate predator, are social and have such neat pack dynamics. Besides, they are just beautiful.

    Happy Wolf Moon to you Dani!
    Jennifer K Jovus
    kjovus at gmail dot com

  5. Wolves are such awesome creatures. Enjoyed the post, learned some new things.
    Thx 4 the chance!!

    ctymice at gmail dot com

  6. I <3 wolves so much! I did not know why the first full moon of the year was referred to as Wolf Moon, now I know it and loved the explanation xD

    And I'd love to win the precious black plushy wolf <333333

    Happy Wolf Moon to you xD

    Ana Death Duarte

    personaldeath (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. I certainly wouldn't want to run into one but they are beautiful animals. They way their packs are structured is amazing. Beautiful eyes. Thanks so much for all the info. And the chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  8. I've always loved wolves. Wolves are forever wild. A black WEBKINZ wolf is so cute!!! Thank you :)

  9. I've always thought wolves were so majestic. I had the opportunity to work with some in a limited capacity years ago, and it was one of the greatest experiences ever. littlereadridinghood (at) gmail

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. We need wolves and other natural predators. They help maintain the balance of nature. Without these predators, there are population booms among other species.

  12. I have always been fascinated by wolves and the way they live and I always go out and take moon pictures when it's in certain phases. It's nice to put the two of them together. I will definitely be out tonight taking more pictures and thinking of the wolves. I see a wolf tattoo in my future. :)


  13. I have always admired Wolves. They are family loving, loyal, intelligent and beautiful to look at. Besides all our dogs originated as wolves and I am a BIG dog lover :D

    I am lucky enough to have already known those facts about the full moon and enjoyed refreshing my memory with your article - thank you.

    felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

  14. I like that they're loyal and cute.


  15. Ah..the wolves are my spirit animal as well as my totem animal. Everything about them is so very close to my heart and soul.
    I love everything good that is symbolized by the wolf. So many were killed and slaughtered out of existence because if ignorance and unreasonable fear.
    I've always felt that humans would be better educated if they were to appreciate and value how the wolf live and exist in their packs. They are the best teachers in living in a pack. The best parents, life mate and just beautiful in all ways.
    The wolves are not killers, and get blamed for so many deaths of livestock when 9 times out of 10 its a coyote of a feral dog. Wolves never kill for the thrill. But humans are guilty of that quite alot unfortunately.
    Thank you Dani for the wonderful info, and post!
    We moved down from Alaska in late June, and I already miss the wolf howls on our mountain...I will always feel blessed that they were our neighbors....*S*


  16. My sister and I both feel that wolves are our spirit animal. I have been fascinated by them for as long as I can remember. I even have a face of a wolf and a tribal howling wolf on my back. They are majestic, loyal, strong and unbelievably beautiful animals. Now if only all people would realize their majesty, we would be in a better place.

  17. Their paws have to be the stand-out thing for me. They represent protection, strength, security, but still this softness and warmth of loyalty and pack. (:

    In regards about the wolf-moon, I have read about some of the variations you mentioned, but I love learning about all different cultures, and especially how they really were very tuned-in to nature. Extremely interesting. (:


  18. I have always been a lover of predator animals; wolves, sharks, big cats (panthers, tigers, leopards, etc)... I have no clue why but I adore the energy. Orca whales too, but I do not see them as predators even though they technically are. Two of my spirit animals are predator animals,though not the wolf.

    When I was a child we use to go to this animal reserve to visit and all I ever wanted to do is visit the wolves. The idea that the pack is lead by the female helps too! ( or

  19. There is just something so majestic, beautiful, and intelligent about a wolf. They inspire us as they go running through the land wild and free. I love the pictures you post on facebook. Would love this little guy to sit on my desk and inspire me. Looking forward to your next book.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

  20. I love wolves for their beauty, their strong family ties, and their strength. I have always had an internal pull to the wolf. There is just something magical about them. I'm totally in love with your changling series. I can't wait for more.

    qladyhawke at gmail dot com

  21. Hi dani! Great info! I never knew the january's full moon had that meaning.

    Wolves are sleek, i like watching at them. Well, from a safe distance of course. And the black doll is soooo cuuuttteeee. I'd love to have it on my bed ;)

    smile_1773 at yahoo dot com

  22. Guess my attempt to post via my iphone did not work. Thought the information you put was very interesting. I did know about Faol being gaelic for wolf. I have a character named Foal in a WIP of mine.

    But they are such beautiful and majestic creatures.

    Raonaid at gmail dot com

  23. I like learning about the hierarchy of the pack. For the most part that's how I think of wolves, in packs, although there will always be renegades who break away from the pack.


  24. I love wolves! They are my absolute favorite animal. They're so beautiful and I love it when they howl. It sounds amazing. My favorite wolf of all time has to be Fenrir. I've always loved reading about different mythologies and Fenrir always captivated me. :)


  25. Great post! I never knew that the full moon in January was called the wolf moon. I have always thought of wolves as beautiful intelligent animals. I also love and admire wolves for their strong family ties and their strength.

  26. Really enjoyed your post I didn't know that the January full moon was called the wolf moon ,that they only breed once a year or that usually only the alpha pair produces pups.I love learning new things especially about wolves . Wolves are my favorite animals they are so beautiful, intelligent,strong so majestic.Thank you for sharing with us today.Hope you have a great week.

  27. My youngest daughter - age 26 - has loved learning about wolves and has quite a book of her own on research she has done. Also I have a prayer partner in Alaska who has sent her lots of articles, etc. She has wolves pictures and stuff everywhere in her house. I got her a wolf throw for Christmas. She wants to save the wolves. I would love to win this for her. jrs362 at hotmail dot com

  28. Great post!! Too me, wolves are the most beautiful creatures in the wild. Thanks for the giveaway.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  29. Well this sure was a interesting read! I never knew about the Wolf Moon before this.
    Wolves are just so beautiful, I hope I can hear them howl someday!

  30. I had a friend who had a female wolf. She was silver with the most beautiful piercing blue eyes. When I looked in her eyes, I was almost afraid because I could see that her intelligence was so much more than mine. She took up the entire bed area of his little pickup. She was such a beautiful creature.
    I love your books.

    booklover at hughes dot net

  31. Great thoughts and I think one reason WE love our shapeshifters (wolves) is that we dare to dream...that one day....our own shapeshifter will take us away....for a better and more exciting life.

    To love a shapeshifter is to accept that there are differences and in doing so....we accept. We can stand above those who discriminate against the shapeshifter (or someone who is different) but when a reader puts themself into the storyline, we accept the shapeshifter for who he/she is.

    1. I supposed you need my


    2. I enjoyed reading your post about the 'Wolf Moon'. It always puzzles me how man can kill such beautiful animals. I will be looking for your new releases.

  32. Your post about the "Wolf Moon" was great. I also love the little plush wolf he's so cute. Being a member of a native american tribe we also call it the "Wolf Moon". Love your books!

  33. I enjoy that wolves mate for life. I love that authors then use that in their stories.

    jrobe 10689 at aol com

  34. I really liked the post on the "wolf moon", I learned some new stuff!

  35. Wolf is strong, possesive and protective creature, love them

  36. I love anything about wolves. I'm hoping one day I'll see one in person, but I hope the wolf doesn't want me for a snack. LOL I've never heard of the Wolf Moon before. I learn something new everyday. :D

    Thanks for the giveaway!!!!!

    1. CONGRATS TIFFANY! Your name was drawn as the winner of my giveaway. I'll be emailing you shortly!

  37. Wolves are beautiful, magestic creatures. Thank you for the history of the Full Wolf Moon.

    saphsbookblog at gmail dot com

  38. Thanks for sharing the photos which are really great.
    I am fascinated more by wolves than any other creature in the wilds. I think it is because they seem so illusive and mysterious. Probably aren't in actuality but they are from my viewpoint.


  40. My 31 year old daughter has always loved wolves so much that her bedroom walls were covered with them. As a Flower Girl in a wedding at age 6, she requested a stuffed wolf as her gift, and to this day she still has Sparky. In fact, she took him to college and on her honeymoon. Because he is so tattered she will not let her 3 year old and 20 month old daughters touch him. She will love reading your blog about wolves. Thanks for sharing.

  41. Interesting. I never knew that and can't remember ever hearing the term "wolf moon". I'd love to hear wolves howling in real life. I bet it's really an amazing sound.

    Thanks Dani!

  42. that was very interesting-I had to laugh at the statement-In some parts of Europe it was believed that if you said the word wolf in December, you would be attacked by one in January! they are beautiful animals

    tiramisu392 (at)

  43. DD1 (Missy Roth) LOVES wolves and has
    donated to wolfcare groups and collects
    wolf memorabilia. I like wolves but like
    the "Wolf Moon" so much more! It was
    just huge and it's brilliance was almost
    hurtful to my eyes. Keep the information
    on these beautiful creatures coming!

    Pat C.

  44. They are beautiful majestic creatures. With such a sense of loyalty
    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  45. I have loved wolves for a very long time, but the changing form of them has been a favourite of mine since I saw "Ladyhawke" (Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick). Since then I knew wolves mate for life and that loyalty is what I like best, then comes the variety in fur colours and eyes, their sense of family/pack and that they are on top of a food chain.

    By the way, I am a cat but I was born in a family of dogs (relatives of wolves) and I used to listen to my name and come when I am called.

  46. I love the power of the moon and how it stabilizes the night sky. Wolves are just beautiful creatures with a power all their own. sdylion(at)gmail(dot)com

  47. There's just something about their eyes that seems so alive and intelligent. And I love that they are so family oriented.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  48. I find it interesting that there are so many different names for the same moon. I have no idea how anyone could ever keep them all straight...I'd need a serious spreadsheet! lol
    Wolf Moon sounds fun, but I like Frost Moon even better.

  49. I think wolves are a misunderstood beauty of nature. I sponsored a wolf when they were introduced into Idaho, and wouldn't you know, I got the only wolf that had two mates! I'm pretty sure he's not around anymore, but I would love to find a new one to sponsor if they do that still.


Love your comments and read every one of them! Thanks for taking the time to write!