Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Month for Mythopaths

The sky is blue; the birds are tweeting. (Disambiguation: the birds are singing, not using a popular social networking service.)

Meanwhile your cat is eyeballing the birdies and licking his lips. So you hop in the Honda and go to Walmart to get cat food. You are, of course, dressed for a blue sky, bird-tweeting  kind of day. But before you get back home with two bags of stuff you didn't intend to buy, you’re wishing you had brought your jacket. Or your umbrella. Or maybe even your snow shoes and an inflatable igloo.

Welcome to the  mad, mercurial, and very mythic month of March. If ever there were a month for mythopaths, March is that month.

In like a lion    March takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war. And the name suits it well, for in this month, Winter and Spring seem to duke it out for supremacy. Hence the unpredictability of the weather. But whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb—or even if it sneaks in like an illegal alien—spring always wins. 

Mad as a March Hare – In this month, normally shy and demure rabbits exhibit rather eccentric behavior. March hares may have “boxing matches” with other rabbits or suddenly leap up into the air. These bizarre bunnies gave rise to the expression “mad as a march hare.” Um, did I mention that in Europe, where this saying originated, March is the mating season for rabbits? In the words of William Makepeace Thackeray, “Love makes fools of us all.”

The Ides of March – March 15th  [Cue creepy music.] The Romans—those same loveable math whizzes who gave us Roman numerals—had a complicated system for keeping track of dates. (Why are we not surprised?) The Ides of March simply means the middle of the month, the 15th. But the Ides acquired a more sinister connotation when Julius Caesar was assassinated on that date. Apparently, he should have listened to the nagging crooked-toothed oracle who said, “Beware the Ides of March.” 

But in present day America, we're more likely to dread the "Ides of April"--the day taxes are due.

Vernal Equinox – on or around the 20th of March  -- If you live in a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, you are blessed. The changing of the seasons tells an epic tale, the annual hero's journey of the earth. But no season change is more epic than the return of spring (life) after the long months of winter (death). Life wins, and that is always something to celebrate.

St. Patrick’s Day -- March 17th   -  St. Patrick, symbol of all things Irish, did not willingly go to the Emerald Isle. At least, not the first time. At age 16, he was kidnapped from his home in Roman Britain and carried off to Ireland as a slave. After six years, he escaped to a port and sailed back to his home.

But that’s when the real story begins. In a vision, Patrick received a call to return to Ireland. He heard the Irish people crying in one voice, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” Many mythic tales have sprung up around this saint, but none can rival the simple true story of his return to the land of his captivity, this time as a missionary. He converted and baptized thousands into the Christian faith.

Alice dines with the March Hare

March also has the usual assortment of myth-and-legend miscellany.
  • St. David's Day (the 1st)
  • Dr. Seuss's birthday (the 2nd)
  • Johnny Appleseed Day (the 11th)
  • Pi Day (3.14--get it?)
  • Swallows return to San Juan Capistrano (~ the 19th)
  • Future birthday of Captain James T. Kirk (the 22nd)
  • Kate diCamillo's birthday (the 25th)
  • Tolkien Reading Day (the 25th) 

(Okay, so maybe Pi Day isn't mythic, but it's a hoot.)

Mad March gets my vote for most mythic month of the year, but I’m afraid I can’t stay and argue the point. Wouldn't you know? I have to run to Walmart for cat food. . . .


  1. Love your blogs! They're both fun AND informative.

  2. Who knew March was so mythic? Fascinating! I'm going to be on the lookout for bunny boxing matches in my backyard!

  3. "Anonymous" last night and realized I hadn't read enough Shakespeare! It was so beautiful outside yesterday and today it is a gloomy day. I think you captured Ohio weather perfectly!

  4. Oh, this is very cute and mythic! Did you know there is a statue of James Kirk in Iowa in his "future" birthplace? What about a blog post on the myths in the world of ST?

    St. Patrick's real story is an epic, mythical journey even without the legends. Nice job!