The Lunar Calendar predates that of the Gregorian calendar that the world adapted. Our terms for what composes a year in a calendar are days and months. The term month in many languages is derived from their vernacular references for the word moon. Some people believe that our calendar is based on the “sun” or “solar” instead of lunar, considering the time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun.
It is only the early civilization of Egypt which used the sun as the basis of counting the days, all the rest reflect that of the lunar traditions. The word Monday, has referrence to the Moon, in the earlier Roman civilization. The Jews, the Greeks, the earlier Babylonians and even the ancient oriental civilizations have also adapted a lunar orientation in their calendars.
Incidentally, the English term “lunacy” was popularized in the 1540’s which referred to intermittent period of insanity presumed to be triggered by the moon’s cycle. Hence, lunar lunacy, was popularized from the middle ages in Europ and up until now in the world, it has become an urban legend that triggers curiousity and further lunacy.
Lunar lunacy, debunks the Scientific American (2009), “does not really hold water”. It explains that the term is derived from the name of the Roman Moon Goddess named Luna. Then, Aristotle and Pliny the Elder made assumptions that the brain which is mostly water could be affected by the moon cycle. Further, the folklore in the medieval times reinvented to present “new” monsters metamorphing from human figures. Such is the “Transylvania effect”, that gave the rise of the myths of vampires and werewolves.
Locally, the Philippines is also rich of the “aswang effect”, that during the full moon, the cursed and those allied with the elements of the netherworld, disfigure from their human forms to become aswang, manananggal, tiktik and enjoy the company of other elementals that party during the full moon. Withcraft and the occult are also beleived to harness power in the full moon.
The full moon gives a naturally enticing atmosphere to stay outside in the dark. In the earlier Philippines, when there was no electricity yet, or even until now in the rural provinces, the full moon offers a nice to time to stay or play longer outside. The elderly would have to be smarter to instruct their children to stay inside the house after dark. So these stories became part of the Filipino culture. For those in the occult, the full moon in the rise is an opportunity to go to the woods and perform their rituals, just like the tatarin.
There is also a belief that it was the Spanish colonizers of the islands, who made up these stories of the aswang or the elementals. This would be really easy, as earlier Filipinos were animistic. It could be understood the Friars could have allowed these stories, so that the people would not be able to meet at night and plot the demise of the Spain in the country, or maybe it was coercive to instill in the Filipino the Catholic faith it has now. This is so, because for the light to have power, the elements of the dark must be identified and conquered as well.
We do refer to the full moon, when someone acts insanely or not so normal at all. This belief is closely associated to what Pliny the elderly and Aristotle explained about the lunar effect on the brain. However, there are not enough evidences to validated this. The American scientists denies this lunar effect for three reasons: 1) that the moon’s gravitational effect has miniscule effect on our brain activity; 2) that the moon’s gravitational pull affects only open bodies of water; and 3). the gravitational effect of the full moon is also the same as in the new moon.
The Lunar perigee which occurs every 18 years or so, is a natural beauty to wonder. NASA scientists, reports that there is no correlation with that of the moon rising closer to earth or appearing to get bigger in our eyes, as to what astrologist warn about how it could trigger natural disasters. It also has minimal effects on the tide changes. Today, we can see that phenomenon unfold before our very eyes.
That beauty can be only seen as the moon rises in the horizon. As urban legend prolifirates without full knowledge of what happens in our outer space, we are then moonstruck not by the moon, but that of the stories that reflects the moon in the human life. Such again is a cultural beauty of oral traditions in our literary history.