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SUGAR MOON: March 28th – Start of the “Anishinaabe New Year”

SUGAR MOON: March 28th – Start of the “Anishinaabe New Year”

Sunday, March 28, 2021 is ‘Sugar Moon’, Ziissbaakdoke Giizas. It is the Start of the Anishinaabe New Year. As a people, the Anishinaabek have always depended on the natural world for their survival.  In many parts of North America First Nations peoples relate the cycles of “Grandmother Moon”, to the four seasons. As we all

Sunday, March 28, 2021 is ‘Sugar Moon’, Ziissbaakdoke Giizas. It is the Start of the Anishinaabe New Year.

As a people, the Anishinaabek have always depended on the natural world for their survival.  In many parts of North America First Nations peoples relate the cycles of “Grandmother Moon”, to the four seasons. As we all know, the moon goes around the earth approximately every 28 days. This means that over 365 days, the moon orbits earth 13 times. Though there are 13 lunar months each year, most people follow the 12-month calendar that dates back to the 1500’s.

For the people of ‘Turtle Island’, the shell of the turtle represents the body of real events, teachings and origins of the human being. In the center of the back of the turtle are thirteen sections which represent the truth of one cycle of thirteen moons in the Earth’s rotation around the sun.  Thirteen also represents the four seasons in the Earth’s cycle around the sun, plus the nine months it takes for the gestation of a human child in the mother’s womb. The scales that surround the outer edge add up to the number of days that make up the lunar cycle from full moon to full moon – 28. Each of the thirteen larger scales in the center is numbered and named, according to the seasonal activities that occur at that time. Because the region the Anishinaabe live on is so large, the moons may not be called the same thing for all areas. Some nations have more than one name for each moon as there are so many things happening in the natural world at that time.

For the Anishinaabe people, the turtle is like a grandmother.  The grandmother is the power of the nation.  She represents the spirit of the people, the women, and the land.  Like no one else, she is able to love, to nurture and to discipline the children of the nation.  We refer to the grandmothers as “beings of kindness”, who have become closest to understanding the Spirit, the land, and the teachings that comprise truth.



The first moon of Creation is Spirit Moon. It is manifested through the northern lights. It is a time to honour the silence and realize our place within all of Creator’s creatures.


The second moon of Creation is Bear Moon, when we honour the vision quest that began in the fall. During this time, we discover how to see beyond reality and to communicate through energy rather than sound. This moon also gives us a special teaching about the birth of bear cubs. In February, there is one morning when there is a heavy fog in the air and the traditional person knows that this is happening.

The next three moons are the moons of Spring. Sugar Moon, on Sunday, March 28th, signals the start of the ‘Anishinaabe New Year‘:


The third moon of Creation is Sugar Moon. As the maple sap begins to run, we learn of one of the medicines given to the Anishinaabe which balances our blood and heals us. During this time, we are encouraged to balance our lives. This moon also teaches us that this is the time of year when the sap is running for the maple sugar harvest. The maple tree gives our people many gifts.  Syrup, taffy, and maple sugar are traditionally tapped during Sugar Moon, and this is when the strength of family and relationships is emphasized. We also embrace the power of medicine and the cleansing of the physical body. This is celebrated as the Anishinaabe new year.


The fourth moon of Creation is Sucker Moon, when the sucker goes to the Spirit World in order to receive cleansing techniques for this world. When it returns to this realm, it purifies a path for the Spirits and cleanses all our water beings. During this time, we can learn to become healed healers. Another teaching is that the sucker teaches that each of us has a role and gifts to share. It is also a time for us to pay attention to and protect our lands.


The fifth moon of Creation is Flower Moon, where all plants display their Spirital sides for all the world to see. This life-giving energy is one of the most powerful healing medicines on Mother Earth. During this moon the earth reveals colours, textures, and shapes that are beyond our comprehension, which reminds of the magnitude of diversity in life, especially with human beings, and our sacred purpose to accept all.


The sixth moon of Creation is Strawberry Moon. The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home, regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgment and/or self-righteousness. As the strawberry is the first berry to ripen it is thought to be a good medicine for the heart and the teeth.


The seventh moon of Creation is Raspberry Moon, when great changes begin. By learning gentleness and kindness, we may pass through the thorns of its brush and harvest its fruit, as we gain knowledge that will help in raising our families.

The eighth moon of Creation is Blackberry or Thimbleberry Moon, when we honour the blackberry which produces an abundance of fruit once every three years. It was one of the first plants put on Mother Earth, and its purpose is to protect the Sacred Circle of life by allowing us to recognize and understand the teachings that come from the Spirit World.

NOTE: The eighth moon can fall in either July or August, depending on the year.


The ninth moon of Creation is the Corn Moon, during which time we learn about the cycle of life. Each cob of corn has thirteen rows of multicoloured seeds which represent all the spirits waiting to begin their Earth Walk. These will be the future generations for whom we must prepare.


The tenth moon of Creation is the Falling Leaves Moon, a time when Mother Earth is honoured with the grandest of colours. As all of Creation makes their offerings to her, we become aware of all the miracles of Creation before us, and our spiritual energies are once again awakened.


The eleventh moon of Creation is the Freezing Moon, a time when the Star Nation is closest to us. As every creature being prepares for the coming fasting grounds, we are reminded to prepare ourselves for our spiritual path by learning the sacred teachings and songs that will sustain us.


The twelfth moon of Creation is the Little Spirit Moon, a time of healing. By receiving both vision of the spirits and good health, we may walk the Red Road with purest intentions, and we can share this most positive energy with our families and friends for the good of all.


The thirteenth moon of Creation is Blue Moon or Big Spirit Moon. Its purpose is to purify us, and to heal all of Creation, a process which may take a three month long spiritual journey. During this time, we receive instructions on the healing powers of the universe and transform into our own vision of the truth.

Source: The 13 Grandmother Moon teachings are adapted from, “Kinoomaadiewinan Anishinaabek Bimaadinzinwin,” Book Two. Author Arlene Berry.

Art work by Deidre Madsen and James Faubert


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