March is full of splendors and myths. It is the month that heralds spring, or the vernal equinox when day and night are of equal length - and falls this year on the 20th.
March is also a month for those inclined to superstitions. "Beware the Ides of March ..." hissed the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's play. And several days later on March 15 - the Ides of March - in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus, his confidant. Since then the Ides of March has imbued a sense of foreboding and lends an added sense of urgency to astrological forecasts.
In actuality the Ides of March is just another way of saying March 15. The word Ides comes from the early Roman calendar, which was supposedly devised by Romulus the mythical founder of Rome. The Ides were the midpoints of the months, with the first of each month being the Kalends, from which the word calendar is derived. Kalendium means account book in Latin, hence the first of the month in Roman times, as today, is when bills are due.
And who can ignore March's main holiday? The hyped Saint Patrick's Day - the holiday that probably is the most misrepresented.
Saint Patrick's Day is associated with everything Irish and anything green. It is a day for shamrocks, luck, drunken behavior and green beer. Many believe it was the day Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Malarkey! Saint Patrick is indeed the patron saint of Ireland but credited with bringing Christianity to the island - not driving snakes away.
Saint Patrick was an enormously popular missionary in the 5th Century who converted and baptized many warrior chiefs and others in his holy wells. Ireland at the time was mostly pagan and the snakes he drove away were more likely to be the pagan rituals than actual reptiles.
The other legend associated with Saint Patrick is his use of the Shamrock, a plant with three leaflets related to the wood sorrel or pea family, as an aid during his sermons to explain the Holy Trinity of the Catholic Church - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 - the day of his supposed death. After the great famines and the emigration of the Irish throughout the world, the legends, myths and holiday spread alongside the Irish. Boston hosts one of the largest Saint Patrick's Day celebrations outside of Ireland, the home of one of the most famous Irish-Americans, John F. Kennedy.
The days of March are full of legends. It makes one think how quickly events can turn into something so far removed from the facts.