Where did the name March come from?
The name March is ultimately derived from the Latin word Martius (named after Mars, the Roman god of war). Martius was the name of the first month in the original Roman calendar. Along with January, May, and June, March is one of several months named after a god.
The Roman ruler, Numa Pompilius, is traditionally credited with adding January and February to the calendar, thus making March the third month of the year. While many have adopted this calendar (the Gregorian calendar), some cultures and religions still celebrate the start of the new year on March 1. In Iran, New Year’s Day is celebrated on March 21.
Is there a connection between the month and the word marching?
In ancient Rome, March marked the start of the military campaign season. While it is tempting to connect the word march, as “march into battle,” with this month, to march comes from the Old French marchier, “to tread, move,” possibly from a Frankish (ancient Germanic language) root meaning “to mark, pace out,” related to mark.
What does the phrase mad as a March hare mean?
Hares (which look like big rabbits, though they are different species) mate during the month of March, when they are noted for their wild and excitable behavior, hence the expression mad as a March hare. The phrase has been in use since the 1500s, including in the poem Blowbol’s Test (“Thanne þey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare”).
Lewis Carroll also referenced the March hare in 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which features the character, the March Hare: “The March hare … as this is May, it won’t be raving mad—at least not so mad as it was in March.”
What do we celebrate in March?
But let’s not focus us on the ominous Ides of March. This month is also known for much mirth and merriment. On March 17, we honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and you’re in luck, as we have festive language facts for this day.
This season is jam-packed with important Christian observances including Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and Lent. The exact day for these varies. Easter, after all, is considered a movable feast, which is a religious feast day that falls on a different calendar day each year. Easter’s date affects all others. Shrove Tuesday falls on March 1 in 2022.
Women’s History Month takes place every year during the entire month of March in the US, the UK, and Australia. In Canada, it takes place in October. This month-long observance is dedicated to education about and celebration of women’s contributions to history, society, and culture. International Women’s Day happens every year on March 8. Learn more by reading “From Suffrage To Sisterhood: What Is Feminism And What Does It Mean?” or find an empowering quote from an inspirational woman here.
If you were born between February 19–March 20, then you’re celebrating your status as a Pisces, and you just might be romantic and intuitive. Why is that? You’ll just have to find out in our round-up of words describing Pisces. Those born March 21–April 19 are known as tenacious and ardent Aries.