August Full Moon in Crete

The August full moon is one of the most celebrated events on Crete Island. It is an occasion of joy, bringing together people to sing and dance under the spectacular lights of Selene’s chariot.

The August full moon is called the Sturgeon Moon around the world – based on a definition by The Old Farmer’s Almanac in the US because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain are usually fished during this summer month. But to Greeks, it is “Avgoustiatiki Panselinos” (Αυγουστιάτικη Πανσέληνος) – simply August full Moon, and yet, the most important full Moon of the year.

Since ancient times, the Summer Olympic Games in honour of Zeus began at sunset on the day of the August full moon. Today, the games are still in August, but the full moon tradition is no longer held. However, the night of the August full moon is still considered the most beautiful night of the year by the Greeks, who will honour it accordingly.

In Crete, like everywhere else in Greece, archaeological sites open their gates free of charge and remain open until midnight. Some of them will organize live concerts and other events – for example, poetry readings – under the fantastic light hues of the largest full Moon of the year. Museums, too, will open their doors with free entrance and remain open until late.

There will be many other free events across the island. Even tavernas will organize special celebrations for local communities: follow the sounds of the Cretan music to find one and enjoy the festivities dancing and dining like the Cretans.

If you watch the skies during the August full moon, remember Selene, the enchanting Titan goddess of the Moon, who fell in love with a mortal, Endymion. Selene gave him fifty daughters, one for each month between two Games of the Olympiad held every four years. For their love, Zeus granted Endymion a forever “deathless and ageless” sleep so that Selene ” might kiss him while sleeping,” according to Cicero.

And here is a fragment of the Orphic Hymn 9 to Selene to accompany you while you enjoy the August full moon:

“Mother of ages, fruit-producing Mene (Moon), whose amber orb makes night’s reflected noon: lover of horses, splendid queen of night, all-seeing power, bedecked with starry light, lover of vigilance, the foe of strife, in peace rejoicing, and a prudent life: fair lamp of night, its ornament and friend, who givest to nature’s works their destined end. Queen of the stars, all-wise Goddess, hail! Decked with a graceful robe and amble veil. Come, blessed Goddess, prudent, starry, bright, come, moony-lamp, with chaste and splendid light, shine on these sacred rites with prosperous rays, and pleased accept thy suppliants’ mystic praise.”

Per NASA, the August full moon “will be Thursday night, August 11, 2022, at 9:36 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). The Moon will appear full for about three days, from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning. The planet Saturn will appear near the Moon. Saturn will be near its brightest for the year, which will occur a few days later in mid-August.”

In Greece – and Crete – celebrations will be held on August 12.

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