The full moon due on 25th (of March) was called Maple Sugar Moon by Chippewas because that’s when sap flowed freest. According to Celts, it’s Nuinne, whose purpose is The Weighing of Truth.
Our ancestors were vitally interested in celestial bodies and studied them carefully because they needed to know when to plant and when to harvest. Some cultures, like Chinese and Celts, even based their calendar on lunar year.
Full moons always had particular fascination – if nothing else, they’re hard to miss – and they figure in folklore from many cultures. They’re associated with everything from werewolves, to pull of tides, to increased crimes of violence, to lunacy of falling in love and other aberrant behavior. Well, “lunatic” comes from Latin word for moon, “luna.”
The full moon is also thought to bring on childbirth. According to at least one hospital administrator, it’s not a myth. In “Moonstruck?” written by reporter Robert Lovinger, Debbie Raposo, director of women’s and children’s health at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, at time article was written, said she’d actually tried to staff her maternity unit with that in mind.
“Clearly, more babies are born around full moon,” Raposo was quoted as saying.
A statistical analysis of her hospital showed a correlation, though other studies have not found statistical relevance. See: http://www.s-t.com/daily/01-99/01-31-99/e01li135.htm . In fact, most scientific research disproves any lunar effects on behavior. I. W. Kelly, professor of educational psychology at U. of Saskatchewan and chairman of Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of Paranormal did some research back in 1986 on lunar effect in collaboration with an astronomer from Colorado State University. His meta-analysis (a study of studies) found too many statistical errors in original studies. Back Kelly came in 1996, along with Rotton and Culver, to study lunar effects on homicide rate, traffic accident, calls to police and fire department, domestic violence, birth of babies, suicides, assassinations, casino payout rates, kidnappings, aggression by pro hockey players, violence in prisons, major disasters, agitated behavior by nursing home residents, assaults, alcoholism, and more. They found no significant correlations. See: http://skepdic.com/fullmoon.html .
Why is it, then, that people in trenches, like bartenders, ER physicians, maternity nurses, policemen and psychiatrists (at least one has written a book called “The Lunar Effect”), and my next door neighbor all attest to fact that things hop up around time of a full moon? And why is it in folklore? Is there something we know intuitively about it?
Raposo said psychiatric ward at her hospital noticed same effect, and local police captain at time, one Capt. Paul Cardalino, noted that “during full moons, it seems there are more problems with family disputes domestic violence, and people who are unstable.”
A minister friend of mine said she “knew” full moon affected people because she’d worked in an old folks’ home. “They kept trying to get out when there was a full moon,” she told me, “and we’d find them wandering streets if we didn’t lock doors.”
There’s at least one study confirming -- Dr. Leiber’s study (J Clin Psychiatry. 1978. May 39(5): 385-92), postulates “the existence of a biological rhythm of human aggression which resonates with lunar synodic cycle.” Interesting that this is study that finds that psychiatric emergency room visits decline around full moon. (This isn’t necessarily good news though, folks; those who enter P-ER are there to get help. If they aren’t there, where are they and what are they doing?)