In like a Lion, out like a Lamb

  • Friday, March 7, 2014

Can you believe this is the end of the first week in March? “Where,” I seem to be constantly asking myself, “does the time go?”

Actually, March used to be the first month of our year under the Roman calendar. It was 262 years ago that we changed to the Gregorian calendar and the year began with January.

History tells us that this month is named for Mars, the god of war. That makes sense with the “Lion” reference. But it appears that there’s a lot more to that quote, with the idea going back to ancient times.

The phrase itself is credited from the 17th century, describing the weather pattern that seems to come true so often.

There’s a lot of folklore about this phrase, which can be traced back to ancient times. Theories include astrology, the Bible, and early American history. If we look to the stars, March begins as the constellation Leo crosses toward the meridian. Leo is the Lion. As Leo moves away, the constellation Aries rises toward the end of the month. Aries is the Ram – a male lamb.

Biblically speaking, Jesus appeared as the sacrificial lamb, but is to return as the Lion of Judah, hence those symbolic animals. However, the older version of this theory did put the lion first. Many scholars trace the phrase back to early U.S. settlers. These farmers and hunter gatherers had no such thing as radar. They relied on keen observation to make their forecasts. March often came with biting cold and winter storms and left spring-like and docile.

Many celebrations happen in this month, which is a transition between winter and spring. These include: Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day, the Jewish holiday Purim, Read Across America Day, Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, First Day of Spring, National Nutrition Month, National Women’s History Month, Save Your Vision Week, National Poison Prevention Week and Girl Scout Week. To look ahead during this colder weather, we have our big Summerville celebration in our sights: just 28 more days until the Flowertown Festival.

People even wax poetic about this month, which can be blustery and becalmed. My favorite selections include one which is gentle, one full of high spirits and one which contains probably the best method of dealing with the month of March in just nine words.

Gentle Emily Dickinson penned “Đear March Come In”

The first stanza sets her style:

“How glad I am,

I hoped for you before.

Put down your Hat,

You must have walked -

How out of Breath you are.

Dear March, how are you, and the Rest,

Did you leave Nature well?

Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -

I have so much to tell.”

I like this merry one by an unknown author:

“March wind is a jolly fellow;

He likes to joke and play.

He turns umbrellas inside out

And blows men’s hats away.

He calls the pussy willows

And whispers in each ear,

“Wake up you lazy little seeds,

Don’t you know that spring is here?”

Then there’s this short philosophical poem, also penned by an unknown author, and written specifically about the March wind:

“When you can`t change the wind

Adjust your sails.”

Good advice!

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