March Madness

Of all the months in the year, March seems to have a lot of trivia and history attached to it, starting with its name. The names of the month originated from the Roman calendar and were derived from gods, emperors, festivals and numbers. The first four months had a mostly religious origin. March is named for the god Mars who was the god of war. Interesting that is what armies do…march on their enemies.

Besides the name of the month, March has so many interesting sayings attached to it: March Madness, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, beware the Ides of March. There are competing stories behind the term March Madness. As is relates to basketball, some say the term began in 1908. While others say the phrase was coined in 1939 by the Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter, in 1939. The other origin of the term, beginning in the 1900s refers to the uncharacteristic behavior affecting people in March that can only be described as a form of madness. Finally, some believe it can be attributed to the tumultuous weather characteristic in March which brings us to the next saying. Again, there are different origins for the saying. Some believe it is related to astrology referring to the positions of the constellations (Leo the Lion and Aries the ram or lamb). Others link the saying to proverbs written by Thomas Fuller’s 1732 in his compendium, Gnomologia; Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. Of course the obvious meaning is that the month starts out like a roaring lion with harsh weather and ends like a docile lamb. This, I know for a fact, is not true as many years it is the exact opposite, especially with climate change affecting our weather patterns.

Finally, there is the last saying. Ironically, this saying has a non-threatening origin. Kalends, Nones and Ides were ancient markers for dates relating to lunar phases. Ides signified the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. Thus the Ides of March signified the new year, which included celebrating and rejoicing. Most people know the phrase from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when a soothsayer warns Caesar. In roman history March 15th is when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by sixty co-conspirators led by Brutus. I think our current Senate may have learned a thing or two from the Romans.

March always means the start of spring to me and I eagerly welcome the milder weather, regardless of when it comes. For us, this often happens in early March. We’ve had a few days of sixty degree weather in these early days of March and I, for one, have welcomed this! Just because the nice weather is around the corner, doesn’t mean we all stop reading cuddled up next to our fireplaces if we have one. Personally, I enjoy reading in the sunshine. So…want to pick up a great book and begin your springtime reading, you know the drill, click the links below.

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