March Is the Third Month of the Year
March is the first month of spring in the northern half of the world. It is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.
The Month of War
The meaning of March comes from ancient Rome: In Latin, it was called martius mensis or the month of Mars, the Roman god of war. March was the first month in the early Roman calendar because war would start again after the winter.
Important Dates in March
March 12: Daylight Saving Time (DST) starts in most areas in the USA and Canada by springing the clocks forward one hour. In Europe, clocks go one hour forward to “summer time” in the early hours of March 26. Most other countries that follow DST change their clocks on March 26.
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day. What started as a day in honor of Ireland’s patron saint has become an international celebration. People in many countries like to drink, be merry, and wear green on this day.
Astronomical Events in March
March Equinox: The spring equinox is the first day of astronomical spring in the northern half of the world—and the start of fall in the southern half. The spring equinox is on March 19, 20, or 21, depending on the Moon.
March Was the First Month
March used to be the first month of the year in the early Roman calendar. Around the year 700 BCE, the Roman king Numa Pompilius introduced January and February into the calendar, pushing March to the third position.
March is still the first month of the year for at least one billion people:
- In most regions of India, the new year in the Hindu calendar starts on the New Moon before the Sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries (Meṣa)—on or around the day of the March equinox.
- The Persian new year, Nowruz, is celebrated on March 21 around the world—from Iran and the Middle East to the Balkans, the Black Sea, and Central and South Asia.
- The orthodox Jewish calendar starts the new year with the month of Nisan, which falls in March or April in the Gregorian calendar.
The Ides of March
The Ides of March was a date in the Roman calendar corresponding to March 15 in the Gregorian calendar. The Ides was either on the 13th or the 15th day of each month and used to mark the day of the Full Moon.
In Roman society, the Ides of March was a special day: Romans celebrated the new year, made sacrifices to the gods, and paid their debts. On the Ides of March in the year 44 BCE, Julius Caesar was murdered during a meeting of the Roman senate. His death ultimately ended the Roman Republic and triggered a civil war.
March Madness is another name for the college basketball national championship in the United States. During March and April, 68 college basketball teams play for the title in the “NCAA March Madness.” March Madness is officially called The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. It is popular even among non-sporting fans and includes nationwide celebrations.
March Birthstone and Birth Flower
According to tradition, the birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone, symbolizing courage. March's birth flower is the daffodil (N. pseudonarcissus). In some cultures, it represents spring and new beginnings. In Persian culture, for example, the daffodil symbolizes the New Year (Nowruz).