I never knew what was meant by ‘once in a blue moon.’ Well, yes, I know what it means but why in a “blue moon?” What is a blue moon? Well, now having just had one in August I have found out. Evidently a blue moon is the second full moon to appear in a month and evidently happens on an average only every two and a half years and it is called a blue moon. You might of course have known this; I didn’t. When I was a kid there was a popular song written by Rodgers and Hart – ‘Blue moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.’ I remember it still. It became a classic and I am sure there are artistes still singing it today. Strange, when so many are forgotten, how certain songs from one’s long distant past linger on in the memory. They must be associated with some place, experience, or emotion of the time perhaps. ‘This is a lovely way, to spend an evening, can’t think of anything else, I rather do.’ Now why should that be so fresh in my memory? I have even used it in my South African novel ‘Angel.’ Others include’ ‘Red Sails In The Sunset,’ and ‘Lovely To Look At,’ and ‘Long ago and far way, I dreamt a dream one day and now that dream is here beside me.’ Obviously I was heavily into romantic ballads.
But back to the blue moon: the internet is awash with information about blue moon. Evidently more than our twelve months (month comes from moon evidently) there are eleven extra days and these mount up until every two or three years there is an extra full moon. The term "blue moon" comes from folklore. Different traditions and conventions place the extra "blue" full moon at different times in the year. In the Hindu calendar, this extra month is called 'Adhik masa (extra month. In calculating the dates for Lent and Easter, the Clergy identify the Lent Moon. It is thought that historically when the moon's timing was too early, they named an earlier moon as a "betrayer moon" (belewe moon), thus the Lent moon came at its expected time.The earliest recorded English usage of the term "blue moon" was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy, entitled "Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe (Read me and be not angry) if they say the moon is belewe [blue] We must believe that it is true." Evidently the meaning of belewe in Middle English could mean both “blue” and "betray" and the clergy referred to the phenomenon as a “betrayer’s moon.” The most literal meaning of blue moon is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) appears to a casual observer to be unusually bluish, which is a rare event. The effect can be caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, as has happened after forest fires and after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years. Other less potent volcanos have also turned the moon blue.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers' Almanac listed blue moon dates for farmers. These correspond to the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons (normally a quarter year has three full moons.) Full moon names are given to each moon in a season: For example, the first moon of summer is called the early summer moon, the second is called the midsummer moon, and the last is called the late summer moon. Logical I suppose. When a season has four moons the third is called the blue moon so that the last can continue to be called the late moon.
The next time New Year’s Eve falls on a Blue Moon (as occurred on 2009 December 31) will be 2028. At that time there will be a total lunar eclipse but I for one won’t be around to see it.