“March, various, fierce, and wild, with wind-crack’d cheeks…”
Charles Churchill, Gotham
Welcome March, month of sowing, wildness, and wind. Considering that those attributes have been ascribed to March for hundreds of years, I cannot help but wonder about the “sowing.” If there’s wind, rain, and snow, why sow? But then, there are clear, sunny days, too, and farmers and gardeners are always eager to begin. I’ve begun, even knowing that we could still have a freeze. Springtime beckons.
Even for the Romans, it was a month of contradictions. From the Latin Martius, March was named after Mars, the Roman god of war and agriculture. Accordingly, it was a month of planting, which sounds peaceful enough, and yet also of war. You might recall that Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March. Since March was the first month of the new year in the early Roman calendar, the timing was strongly symbolic, a sort of New Year’s statement. More generally, the ides were one of three monthly divisions in the early Roman calendar and fell around the middle of each month.
I tend to agree with the ancient Romans about March being the beginning of the year. It has my vote! Everything is waking. In the northern hemisphere, March is the month of Spring. Meteorogically, it begins March 1. Astronomically, our spring or vernal equinox is March 20 this year. That’s when the sun will cross the celestial equator on its way north. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus, equal, and nox, night. During an equinox, day and night are just about equal. As Spring passes, of course, we can look forward to longer days.
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, does fall on the Spring equinox. It’s an ancient, pre-islamic observance with many beautiful traditions. Promoting peace and harmony with nature, it has been added to the United Nations’ “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
March also has some wonderful feast days. Saint Patrick, whose feast day is March 17, is celebrated all month. Another beloved feast day is that of Saint Joseph, March 19.
As for me, I love this month. For me, it is a prayerful month, a time of renewal in spirit as well as a renewal in the nature I love. Despite the contrary weather, plants are awakening from dormancy and it is time to sow.
It is a time of hope.
Images: March, Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Mars, Guido Bonsatti, 1550
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.