It’s March—Happy New Year! Wait…what?
Welcome to the third month of the year—or, if you were born before 150 B.C., the first! According to the oldest Roman calendars, one year was ten months long, beginning in March and ending in December. It may sound crazy, but you can still see traces of this old system in our modern calendar: because December was the tenth month, it was named for the number ten in Latin (decem), just like September was named for seven (septem). So, what about January and February? They were just two nameless months called “winter.”
March was named for war—and lives up to its title
If so many months were named for their Latin numbers, why wasn’t March called… unumber? March was actually named for the Latin Martius—aka Mars, the Roman God of war and a mythical ancestor of the Roman people via his sons, Romulus and Remus. With the winter frosts melting and the ground becoming fertile for harvest again in the Northern hemisphere, March was historically the perfect month both for farmers to resume farming, and warriors to resume warring.
Incidentally, the Pentagon still seems to agree with this Roman tradition: with the exception of the recent War on Afghanistan, almost all major US-NATO led military operations since the invasion of Vietnam have begun in the month of March.
Beware The Ides of March unless you’re a cat
What does “beware the Ides of March” actually mean? On the Roman calendar, the midpoint of every month was known as the Ides. The Ides of March fell on March 15th. This day was supposed to correlate with the first full moon of the year and was marked by religious ceremonies, but thanks to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar we know it for another reason. Supposedly, in 44 BC, a seer told Julius Caesar that his downfall would come no later than the Ides of March. Caesar ignored him, and when the fated day rolled around he joked with the seer, “The Ides of March have come.” The seer replied, “aye, Caesar; but not gone.” Caesar continued on to a senate meeting at the Theatre of Pompey, and was summarily murdered by as many as 60 conspirators.
Ironically, the spot where Caesar was assassinated is protected in today’s Rome as a no-kill cat sanctuary.
As the saying goes, March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” That was certainly true on March 1st, 2007, when a detachment of 170 Swiss infantrymen accidentally invaded neighboring Liechtenstein when they got lost on a training mission.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned from space after one full year, setting a new record for the longest uninterrupted trip to space.
Daylight saving time begins. Hooray! More daylight!
Pi Day celebrates the annual occurrence of 3/14 with math jokes, pi-reciting competitions, and (of course) freshly baked pie.
Many people will remember to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day.
But even those who consider themselves very knowledgeable about music trivia might not know that on St. Patrick's Day in 1973, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon” first hits the Billboard Top 200 chart at number 95. A mere 14 years later (736 chart weeks, to be exact), it finally leaves the top 200 for the first time, setting a still-unbroken world record.
The sun shines on the equator for the Vernal Equinox, giving us a near 50-50 split of day and night.
These fun facts were culled from Reader’s Digest.