As part of the annual end-of-winter "coming alive" process, commonly referred to as spring, we have the month of March. It’s a month that always offers us a few significant moments including the first couple of days when the temperature might briefly approach a whopping 10°C. We all know that this kind of mild weather is by no means guaranteed, but it usually happens briefly at some point in March and it always feels wonderful. This little surge of sun power gives us renewed hope for an imminent end to the long winter.
March also offers us the annual excitement of community club hockey playoffs, which for dedicated parents, who are not particularly avid hockey fans, means the promise of an end to the long season.
On the new month's calendar, you’ll also find the arrival of Daylight Saving Time on the 11th, St. Patrick's Day on the 17th and the “official” arrival of spring on the 20th.
What else is on the March calendar, past and present?
March 9, 1822 — Charles Graham received the first patent for artificial teeth.
March 15 — This day was known as the Ides of March on the Roman calendar and originally had no negative connotation. It got its name from the Etruscan word that meant to divide, because the day split their lunar month into two equal parts. But alas, after Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC, the day came to be seen as a bad omen, as in: “Beware the Ides of March!”
March 15 — In Hinckley, Ohio, the Ides are a good omen because it’s Buzzard Day — a sign of spring. After their annual winter hiatus, the buzzards, or turkey vultures, return to raise their young. Four days later, in San Juan Capistrano, California, it’s the same thing, but with swallows.
March 17 — St. Patrick's Day. Here are a couple of Emerald Isle thoughts to warm the cockles of your heart:
• It was the famous Irish novelist and imbiber, Tam O'Shanter, who said, “In Ireland, a writer is looked upon as a failed conversationalist.”
• On another occasion, he observed, “It’s far better to be a coward for a minute than be dead for the rest of your life.”
March 18, 1931 — The first electric shaver was manufactured by — who else — Jacob Schick.
March 20 — Spring is here! At least in theory.
Our resident expert on such astronomical happenings is Vernal Equinox, and he says, “Have a nice spring day, but don’t put away your snow shovel.”
March 28, 1797 — The first washing machine was patented in New Hampshire by Nathaniel Briggs. You would have guessed Maynard Maytag?
March 30, 1858 — A pencil equipped with an eraser was patented by Hyman Lipman. Way to go, Hyman. Clever idea! Although, it’s too bad that the eraser never lasts as long as the pencil.
March 31 — Fair warning that the next day is April 1, and who knows what evil lurks in the funfilled hearts and minds of your family, friends and co-workers.
The April 1 tomfoolery may have started in France when New Year’s Day fell during Easter Week. I know that sounds strange, but back in the depths of time, the New Year by the Julian calendar was indeed celebrated during the Vernal Equinox of late March. Then in the 1500s, France adopted the new Gregorian calendar and the New Year celebration was changed to January 1.
However, many people continued with the “spring” New Year’s visits and the revelry of the old calendar as sort of a joke. These people came to be known as April Fools and their jesting gradually emerged into April Fool’s Day.