March brings with it the promise of gardening and warm(er), sunny days as Earth turns its frostbitten cheek to winter and springs forth from the vernal equinox. Read about this month’s holidays, happenings, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, moon phases, folklore, and much more!
The month of March
March, the third month of the year, was named for the Roman god of war, Mars. Traditionally, this was the time of year to resume military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter.
In the early Roman calendar, March (or Martius) was the first month of the calendar year. As March brought the first day of spring with the vernal equinox, it was the start of new beginnings.
March became the third month when January and February, which were added to the end of the Roman calendar around 700 BCE, instead became the first and second months around 450 BCE.
• March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a day that not only celebrates the achievements of women and the progress made toward women’s rights, but also brings attention to ongoing struggles for equality around the world.
• March 14 is the start of Daylight Saving Time, which begins at 2:00 A.M. that day. If your area observes it, don’t forget to “spring forward” and set the clocks one hour ahead, or you may find yourself an hour late to everything!
• March 15 is the Ides of March! Legend surrounds this ill-fated day. Beware the Ides of March!
• March 15 is also Clean Monday. Also called Pure Monday, this day marks the beginning of Great Lent for followers of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. This day is similar to Ash Wednesday of the Western Church.
• March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. According to folklore, folks wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because the saint used its three leaves to explain the Trinity.
• March 20 brings about the March equinox—also called the vernal or spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere—marking the beginning of spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, this date marks the autumnal equinox and the beginning of fall. On this day, the Sun stands directly over Earth’s equator.
• March 27 is the start of Passover, which begins at sundown on this day.
• March 29-31 are known as the Borrowing Days. According to lore, the last three days of March have a reputation for being stormy.
Looking ahead: This year, Easter Sunday will occur on April 4, culminating the Holy Week for Christian churches and commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read more about Easter Sunday and find out why the date changes every year.
“Just for fun” days
Did you know that March is National Umbrella Month? Here are some more wacky things to celebrate this month:
• March 9 is International Fanny Pack Day.
• March 16 is National Panda Day.
• March 21 is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day.
March’s full moon, the Worm Moon, reaches peak illumination on Sunday, March 28, at 2:50 PM EDT. Look for it that evening as it rises above the horizon!
• March’s moon phases are as follows:
• Last quarter: Mar. 5, 8:32 p.m. EST
• New moon: Mar 13, 5:23 a.m. EST
• First quarter: Mar 21, 10:41 a.m. EDT
• Full moon: Mar. 28, 2:50 p.m. EDT
The start of spring
The March equinox occurs on Saturday, March 20, 2021. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is known as the vernal, or spring, equinox and marks the start of the spring season. In the Southern Hemisphere, autumn begins.
At this time, the sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. Also on this day, the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west—a good thing to know if you get lost in the woods.
1. The March equinox occurs on March 20 at 5:37 A.M. EDT this year, ushering in the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. At this time, the sun’s position will be at which of the following coordinates on the celestial sphere?
A. 0 hour right ascension, 0° declination.
B. 6 hours right ascension, 23.5° North declination.
C. 12 hours right ascension, 0° declination
According to folklore, wear a sprig of rosemary in your hair to improve your memory! Also, March brings rain and mud, so sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.
March’s birth flower
March’s birth flower is the daffodil or jonquil. The daffodil signifies regard or unrequited love. The jonquil means “I desire a return of affection.
March’s birthstone is the aquamarine. This gem is a type of beryl; its color can be pale to dark blue, greenish-blue, or blue-green; deep, intense blue versions are more valuable.
March’s Zodiac signs are Pisces (February 20 to March 20) and Aries (March 21 to April 20).
• A wet spring, a dry harvest.
• Thunder in spring, cold will bring.
• So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be.
A., 0 hour right ascension, 0º declination. B describes the sun’s position during the June (summer) solstice while C describes the sun’s position during the September (fall) equinox.