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The Month of March: holidays, fun facts, folklore and more

10 min read

I Martius am! Once first, and now third!
To lead the Year was my appointed place;
A mortal dispossessed me by a word,
And set there Janus with the double face.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet (1807–82)

March brings with it the promise of warm, sunny days.
Read something interesting about this month’s holidays, happenings, folklore, and much more!

“March” is named for the Roman god of war, Mars, as this was the time of year to resume military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter.
In the early Roman calendar, March (or Martius) was the first month of the calendar year.
As March brought the first day of spring with the vernal equinox, it was considered the start of new beginnings for centuries.
March became the third month when January and February, which were added to the end of the Roman calendar around 700 BCE, instead became the first and second months around 450 BCE.
The Anglo-Saxons called the month Hlyd monath which means Stormy month, or Hraed monath which means Rugged month.

March 1 is Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday” or Shrove Tuesday), which is the final feasting day before the Christian tradition of Lent begins on the following day, Ash Wednesday (March 2, 2022).
But March 1 is also St. David’s day, the patron saint of Wales, and Whuppity Scoorie, a West Scotland festival that marks the approach of spring. Traditionally, at 6pm, children race around St Nicholas’ Church, making as much noise as possible and trying to hit each other with paper balls on the ends of strings. Its origins are obscure: one source claims that the children’s shouting was to chase away evil spirits, another claims that it reflects curfew changes when the lighter spring evenings replaced the dark winter nights yet another that it dates from a time when miscreants were whipped round the town cross then ‘scoored’ (scoured or cleansed) in the nearby River Clyde.

March 7 is Clean Monday. Also called Pure Monday, this day marks the beginning of Great Lent for followers of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. This day is similar to Ash Wednesday of the Western Church.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a day that not only celebrates the achievements of women and the progress made toward women’s rights, but also brings attention to ongoing struggles for equality around the world.

March 11, in Notthinghamshire, is Penny Loaf Day. For three nights Hercules Clay dreamed that he saw his house on fire. So convinced was he of impending doom that he moved his family out. They had no sooner left the property, when a bomb fired by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, destroyed the house. As thanks for his lucky escape, Hercules left £100 in trust, to provide penny loaves for the poor of the town.

March 13 is the start of Daylight Saving Time, which begins at 2:00 A.M. that day. If your area observes it, don’t forget to set the clocks one hour ahead, or you may find yourself an hour late to everything!

March 15 is the Ides of March.
Legend surrounds this ill-fated day. Beware the Ides of March!

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. According to folklore, folks wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because the saint used its three leaves to explain the Trinity.

March 18 is St Edward the Martyr’s Day.
Brutally murdered on this day in 978 on the orders of his stepmother, Edward the 15-year-old Anglo-Saxon King of England became known as a Saint and Martyr when miracles began to occur at his tomb. As a consequence of this, his body was moved from Wareham to Shaftesbury Abbey. Pilgrims still attend his modern shrine.

March 20 is the March equinox, also called the vernal or spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the beginning of spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, this date marks the autumnal equinox and the beginning of fall.
On this day, the Sun stands directly over Earth’s equator.
Also on this day, the Sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west—a good thing to know if you get lost in the woods!

March 25 is the Feast of Annunciation.
On this day, nine months before Christmas, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is celebrated. The Archangel Gabriel came to Mary of Nazareth and told her she was to bear the Son of God.

March 29-31 are known as the Borrowing Days. According to popular folklore, the last three days of March have a reputation for being stormy.

And what about orange and lemon?
Well…in the days when the River Thames at London was wider than it is now, barges carrying oranges and lemons landed just below the churchyard of St. Clements Dane. On the last day of March, local primary school children gather at the church to attend a service, reciting the famous nursery ‘ rhyme and, on occasions, play the tune on hand bells. At the end of the service, the children are presented with an orange and a lemon from a table outside the church.
The nursery’s rhyme begins with the lines:
Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement’s

But did you know that March is National Umbrella Month?
Here are some more just for fun things to celebrate this month:

March 1 is Pancake day, and National Pig Day.
March 3: What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day (please don’t ask me why), but also World Book Day (more simple, ok).
March 11 is National No Smoking Day, while March 12 is International Fanny Pack Day as well as our collaborator Danilo’s Birthday. Happy Birthday, my friend!
March 13 is National Ear Muff Day but also National “Open an Umbrella Indoors Day”.
March 16 is National Panda Day and National No Selfie Day (it sounds good).
March 20 is International Day of Happyness, but also Ravioli or Macaron Day.
March 23 is World Meteorological Day, while March 25 is International Waffle Day.
March 31 is World Backup Day.

March’s full Moon, the Worm Moon, reaches peak illumination on Friday, March 18, 2022, at 3:20 A.M. EDT. Look for it in the evening of Thursday, March 17, as the Moon rises above the horizon!
Why is it called the Worm Moon?

You may have heard the weather proverb, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” which means that if the month starts off stormy, it will end with mild weather.
But there is also a different interpretation: The constellation Leo, the lion, rises in the east at the beginning of March and thus the month “comes in like a lion,” while Aries, the ram, sets in the west at the end of the month, and hence, the month “will go out like a lamb.”

March’s birth flower is the daffodil or jonquil.
The daffodil signifies regard or unrequited love, while the jonquil means “I desire a return of affection.”
As the sun shines a little bit longer each day and the vernal equinox draws closer, it’s hard not to think of warm spring weather and, in gardens and woodland areas, daffodils are readying themselves for their early spring appearance.
So, it’s no surprise that the daffodil is linked to this month.
The traditional daffodil is either yellow, white or a combination of the two, but newer varieties now include pink and orange.
Native to northern Europe, they also go by their Latin name, Narcissus, which is the plant’s genus, but It’s believed that the daffodils are named after Narcissus, the son of Cephissus, who was the river god in Greek mythology. According to legend, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in the water and when he died starring at himself, the daffodil bloomed where he died.
Because it is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, daffodils are seen as a representation of rebirth and new beginnings.
They are also thought to represent inspiration, forgiveness, and creativity.
During Medieval times, it was thought that if a daffodil drooped as you looked at it, it was an omen of death.
In ancient Rome, the bulbs and roots of the daffodil were applied to treat tumors, while in other locations is has been used to treat painful joints, wounds, burns, and bruises.
In Wales, legend says that those who see the first daffodil of the season will be blessed with wealth in the coming year. Daffodils are also the national flower of Wales, and are worn for St. David’s Day each year on March 1, while in France it was viewed as a sign of hope.
In China, if a daffodil blooms on the first day of a new year, it is thought to bring wealth and good fortune for the rest of the year.
In the Middle East, it was thought to be an aphrodisiac and a cure for baldness, while somewhere daffodil is traditionally given to celebrate a 10th wedding anniversary.
The gift of a single daffodil is also thought to bring about misfortune, so it’s better to give a bunch!

March has two birthstones: aquamarine and bloodstone.
Aquamarine’s folklore has strong connections to the sea and was thought to aid in decision making, perseverance, and responsibility.
A member of the beryl family, it gets its coloring from trace amounts of ferrous iron. Aquamarine ranges in color from blueish green, blue-green, greenish blue to deep blue, and its tones can be very light to moderately dark. Deep, intense blue versions are more valuable.
The word “aquamarine” come from the Latin words aqua, meaning “water,” and marina, meaning “of the sea.”
It’s said that Roman fishermen believed aquamarine would provide protection for sailors and those traveling on the water, but It was also thought to bring luck in catching fish.
According to legend, aquamarine would create a calm sea for those during travel.
Aquamarine was also thought to help cool tempers and allow those who possessed it to remain calm and levelheaded.
In the Middle Ages, people thought that wearing the stone would prevent poisoning.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naturalist, believed the stone had real powers, originating from treasures belonging to mermaids.
But folklore surrounding aquamarine was not only related to the sea, but also to the heavens because of the sky’s reflection in water.
Due to a belief that the aquamarine’s reflective properties could unearth things deep within a person’s soul, it was quite popular among healers and mystics.
In any case, it was used by Roman doctors to treat overeating and ailments like bloating, but beads made of aquamarine have been discovered even with Egyptian mummies!

Bloodstone’s association with blood created a feeling that it would bring health and strength, and preserve youth to those who wore it.
It is a type of chalcedony, a form of cryptocrystalline quartz, and the amount of chlorite particles will determine the depth of its dark-green color.
It is most known for its dark-green color with flecks of red spots, which can resemble drops of blood, are due to the presence of iron oxide in the stone.
Not by chance, they have long been associated with blood, and sometimes they have been believed to help with hemorrhages and blood disorders.
Aztecs in fact used bloodstone to help regulate blood flow, but they were used also by Babylonians to make seals and amulets.
The gem has been also a symbol of bravery through its link to blood and vitality.
Christians in the Middle Ages, according to legend, associated it with martyrdom and the crucifixion of Christ.
Some believed the first bloodstone was created when Jesus’ blood dripped on a jasper, turning it into a bloodstone.
Egyptians believed bloodstones would aid in defeating enemies, as it helped to increase strength.
In ancient times, it was thought that a bloodstone could turn the sun red, while also making thunder and lightning occur.
But, in more modern times, a bloodstone is associated with being a lucky charm, even if in India it is crushed and used as an aphrodisiac!

And what about folklore?

According to popular belief:
– A wet spring, a dry harvest.
– On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up, and the broad-back goose begins to lay.
– March comes in with adders’ heads and goes out with peacocks’ tails.
– Thunder in spring, Cold will bring.
– So many mists in March you see, So many frosts in May will be.

– Moreover, the last three days of March were said to be borrowed from April.

March said to April,
I see 3 hoggs
(hoggets, sheep) upon a hill;
And if you’ll lend me dayes 3
I’ll find a way to make them dee
(die).
The first o’ them wus wind and weet,
The second o’ them wus snaw and sleet,
The third o’ them wus sic a freeze
It froze the birds’ nebs
(noses) to the trees.
When the 3 days were past and gane
The 3 silly hoggs came hirpling
(limping) hame.”

Images from web – Google Research