Saturday, March 01, 2014

Old Number One

March isn’t what it used to be. Oh, sure, it’s the only month with a command – March 4th – and yes, it was named for a commanding god. But March used to be Number One.

Mars, relaxing
Early calendar designers in the Northern Hemisphere were logical. March is the month of spring’s arrival, the time when life returns to the earth – a reasonable place to begin a new year. So the Romans made March the first month. So did the Saxons, who called it Lenet Monat, or length month, referring to the longer days. Even until 1752, the British considered March 26 the beginning of the legal year.
Since the month was so important, the Romans named it after a leading deity, Mars, their god of war. The Romans were, after all, a militaristic nation, conquerors of much of Europe.
Alas, the reshuffled modern-day calendar gives us a leading month, in the dead of winter, that’s named for Janus, the god of doors. Yes, doors.
Let’s face it: The whole year isn’t what it used to be.

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