01 March 2012


Come Mars, God of War, lay aside your shield and spear:
A moment, from your helmet, free your shining hair.
What has a poet to do with Mars, you might ask?
The month I sing of takes its name from you…

‘I name the first month of the Roman year after you:
The first month shall be called by my father’s name.’
The promise was kept: he called the month after his father.
This piety is said to have pleased the god.
                                                             Ovid, Fasti, Book III

Sturdy March with brows full sternly bent
And armed strongly, rode upon a ram,
The same which over Hellespontus swam;
Yet in his hand a spade he also hent,
And in a bag all sorts of weeds ysame,
Which on the earth he strewed as he went,
And fill'd her womb with fruitfull hope of nourishment.

March: From Mars, the god of war, and the reputed father of Romulus, who is traditionally believed to have compiled the first calendar and to have made March the first month in the year.  With the 25th day of this month… the legal year began with many Christian nations until a quite recent period.  Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 646.

AstronomyFull Worm Moon, also called Full Sap Moon, on the 8th. 

Vernal Equinox at 1:14 am on the 20th. 

Spring Forward!  Daylight Saving Time begins (for those that are required to follow it) at 2:00 am on the 11th.  Move your clocks ahead one hour when you go to bed the night before.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

Weather for March:
According to the Twelve Days of Christmas: Overcast with mild temps.
According to the first twelve days of January: Mostly cloudy and very, very cold.
According to the Ember Days: Sunny and mild.

Weather Lore: 

Everyone knows that March 'comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb' or vice-versa.  Except in New England.  Here it comes in like a lion, and stays that way.

A dry March, wet April, and cool May,
fill barn and cellar, and bring much hay

Dust in March brings grass and foliage.  (And if the dust is mud – which it usually is?)

A bushel of March dust is worth a king’s ransom [the frosts of January and February pulverize the soil and the snows make it wet.  The farmer hopes that the winds of March will dry the ground, so that it is suitable for sowing seed. ]

If March be clear and warm throughout, April will be so at its end.

March winds and April showers,
Bring forth May flowers. [And what do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims]

When March has April weather, April will have March weather.

If March takes April’s weather and is mild and showery, then April will take March’s weather and be stormy.

The worst blast comes in the borrowing days (that would be March going out like a lion)

A peck of March dust and a shower in May
Makes the corn green and the fields gay.

So many mists in March you see
So many frosts in May will be.

As it rains in March, so it rains in June.

Fog in March, thunder in July.

A wet March makes a sad August.  [Sad in the form of a bad harvest.]

March rain spoils more than clothes.

Thunder in March betokens a fruitful year.
Thunder in March signifies that same year great winds, plenty of corn, and debate amongst people.
When it thunders in March, it brings sorrow.
When March thunders, tools and arms get rusty. [I'm thinking that the arms referred to here are firearms - however, I've noticed my own two arms sounding and feeling a little creaky].

Fruit is never killed by a frost in March [at least so we hope].

3/1, 2, & 3 – First comes David, next comes Chad,
                     Then comes Winnall as if he was mad.  (March coming in like a lion)

3/1- If it snows on the first day of March, there will be snow for thirty days.

3/1 – Wherever the wind lies on St. Eudoxia’s day, there it will remain during the spring and summer.

3/2 – Ember Day.  The weather today foretells the weather of May.

3/3 – Ember Day.  The weather today foretells the weather of June.

         Thunder on St. Cunegunda’s day presages a second winter.

3/5 – There will be heavy rains on the first Monday in March.

3/10 – If it doesn't freeze on the 10th, a fertile year may be expected.
                        On the other hand
           Mists or hoar-frosts on the 10th of March betoken a plentiful year, but not without some diseases.

           As the weather is on the day of the Forty Martyrs, so will it be for forty days.

           As on Forty Martyrs, so on St. Peter’s (June 29).

3/12 – If the winds die down today, there is cold weather coming.

3/17 – If the cow does not walk in clover on Saint Gertrude’s day, then will she yet walk in snow.

3/19 – If Saint Joseph's Day is clear,
           So follows a fertile year.

           On St. Joseph’s day the cold weather has gone [not noticeably]
3/20 – As the wind and weather at the equinox, so it will be for the next three months.

           As the equinoctial storms clear, so will all storms clear for the six months.

           If the wind is westerly or southwesterly at noon of the vernal equinox, there will be fine weather till midsummer, but if the wind is from the northeast or north, there will be no fine weather until then.

           If the wind is north-east at vernal equinox, it will be a good season for wheat and a poor one for other kinds of corn; but if south or south-east, it will be good for other corn, but bad for wheat.

           The vernal equinoctial gales are stronger than the autumnal.

           If near the time of the equinox it blows in the day, it generally hushes towards evening.

3/25 – Lady Day clear, expect a fertile year. 

           If the sky is clear and the stars shine brightly in the hour before sunrise on Lady Day, the year will be fruitful.

           If there is hoar-frost on the morning of the Annunciation, it will do no harm.

           If it rains on Lady Day, it will rain on all her feasts [and Our Lady has many in the year]

           If the sun does not shine brightly on Lady Day, there will be forty more days of winter.

29, 30, 31 - March borrows of April three days, and they are ill;
                   April borrows of March again three days of wind and rain.

[This is March going out like a lion and extending his power into April.  One of the legends explaining the ‘borrowing days’ is that a shepherd once promised March a lamb if the month would guarantee good weather.  March did so, but when he went to get his promised payment, the shepherd, seeing that there were only three days left in the month and his flock was flourishing, reneged on the agreement.  March, in disgust, took his last three days, borrowed three from April, and for the six days sent such terrible weather that the entire flock perished.]

These superstitions have nothing to do with the weather, but they are rather interesting:

If you cut your hair in March...
...you will have a year of headache.
...you will be sick before the year is out.
...you will lose a horse.
...you will never live to see another March

To move in March brings bad luck.

If a person lives through March, he will live the rest of the year. [Unless he cuts his hair]

March. Breaking up Soil – Digging – Sowing – Harrowing

Advice to the Countryman for March
Now when a few dry days have made the land
For working fit, take then the Plough in hand;
And if the weather should continue fair,
Keep on with sowing Oats and Barley there;
Not this they work defer, like some, until
The showers of April gin the Dike to fill;
A bushel of March dust is worth, they say,
A Sovereign's ransom or a Stack of Hay.
Now sow your garden seeds, now nail the Trees,
When the warm Sun at first brings out the Bees;
For they, by instinct strange, appear to see
What sort of weather is about to be -
Trust them, and imitate their industry.
                                            T. Forster, The Perennial Calendar, p. 87

If March does not plant, May will not mow.

March dry, good rye,
March wet, good wheat.

3/1 – Upon St. David’s day
         Put oats and barley in the clay.

3/1 & 2 – David and Chad
               Sow peas, good or bad.

               Sow the seeds of the Sweet Pea flower between St. David and St. Benedict.

3/17 – If it is fine weather on St. Gertrude’s day, it is time to begin spring planting.

           Sow the seeds of the Sweet Pea flower before sunrise on St. Patrick’s day, for larger and more fragrant blossoms.

3/21 – On St. Benedict, sow thy peas or keep them in the rick. [last call for sowing peas]

3/25 – Any seed sown today will prosper and anything transplanted today will easily take root.

Then comes the Daffodil beside
Our Lady's Smock at Our Lady-tide.

From the 1817 Almanac:
All Works in the Garden directed to be done last Month must be finished in this; All Sorts of Grafting may be done this Month.  Prune Nectarines, Peaches, and Apricots, and all other Trees without delay.

Set Slips of Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme, &c. and the Suckers, Offsets, &c. of Trees and Shrubs; divide and plant fibrous-rooted Herbs, &c.

Continue to set Willows and other Aquatics.  Transplant Seedlings.  Lay Turf for Walks.

Sow Pease, Oats, and Barley, and also all Sorts of Grass Seeds.
Cassell’s Illustrated almanack 1871
Flowers—Where bulbs have been sown and the plants are now making their appearance, dress the ground between them, that they may get the full benefit of light and air.  Sow hardy annuals, and keep in view the arrangement of color when the plants come into flower.

Vegetables—Transplant autumn-sown beans, and sow cabbages for use in summer and autumn. The sowing of all crops of this kind should be so timed and continued at intervals, that a constant succession is kept up in the supply.  In purchasing seed, ascertain which kind is most appropriate to the season when you intend to use it, or when you may desire to gather in the plants. Onions, carrots, and parsley may be sown freely in mild weather.

Fruit—This is the proper month for grafting fruit trees, and if you have any wall trees coming into blossom, protect them from destructive frosts or heavy rains by a covering of matting, or by wrapping fern leaves round them. A small coping placed along the wall, to throw off rain and prevent radiation of heat, is also an excellent means of preserving the trees from injury in bad weather.


“Purge and let Blood:  Eat no gross Meats.”

Artwork: March. Engraving by William Hone. The Everyday Book and Table Book. (1838) p. 310.

March. Breaking up Soil – Digging – Sowing – Harrowing. Engraving based on an 11th century manuscript. William Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs (1898) p. 646.