The Month of March
March is the third month of the year. It has 31 days and is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.
When March Was the First Month
March has not always been the third month in a year. In early versions of the ancient Roman calendar, the year began with March or Martius. Because the month coincides with the time of the March equinox and the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, where the calendar originated, March was considered to be a month of new beginnings.
The months of January and February did not feature in earlier versions of the Roman calendar. They were added to the end of the year around 700 BCE and became the first months of the year around 450 BCE, pushing March to its currently held third position.
March Equinox: Beginning of Spring and Fall
In areas north of the equator, astronomical spring starts on the equinox in March, which is on either March 19, 20, or 21. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the opposite. Here, the March equinox is the autumnal equinox and marks the first day of fall.
Cultural Significance of the March Equinox
The Christian church uses March 21 as the official date for the equinox in the ecclesiastical calendar, making this the basis for calculating the dates for Easter and other moveable feasts like Lent and Pentecost.
According to the UN, around 300 million people worldwide celebrate the beginning of the Persian new year, Nowruz, on March 21. In Iran, it is a public holiday, and celebrations are also prominent in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, the Caucasus, Central and South Asia, and in the Middle East.
Why Is March Called March?
The name March comes from the Latin Martius or Martius mensis, after the Roman god of war, Mars. In ancient Rome, this was also the month when armed conflicts would resume after the winter months.
- Latin - Martius mensis - Month of Mars
- Old English - Martius
- Middle English - March or Marche
Birth Flower and Stone
March's birth flower is the daffodil. The birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone which symbolize courage.