March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war, and refers to the fact that military campaigns often resumed in this month, having taken a break for the winter. Given that we have no such qualms about fighting in the cold these days, March has lost its combative connotations and is a wonderfully positive month, which makes it a brilliant time to be born! Spring is in the air, the days are usually warmer than they have been for months and the long, lazy days of summer finally seem to be within our grasp.
A Month for New Beginnings
March is associated with new beginnings and used to be the first month of the year. January and February were late arrivals to the calendar party, as they weren’t added until in around 700BC and were not designated as the 1st and 2nd months (rather than the 11th and 12th) until around 450BC.
The Vernal Equinox takes place between 19th and 21st March. At this time the sun is directly above the equator, which means that day and night are of equal duration. The Vernal Equinox marks the official start of spring and feels like nature’s new year. Hedgehogs, dormice and bats all wake up from hibernation in March, unless it is unseasonably cold, in which case they may sensibly stay snoozing until April.
It's not just nature that seems to view March as a fresh start. The Ides of March denotes the first new moon of the month. It takes place between 13th and 15th March and used to be the Roman new year. It was marked by celebration and feasting and was traditionally the day to settle your debts and start the coming year with a clean slate. Julius Caesar moved new year away from the first new moon of March and into January just two years before he was murdered on the Ides of March (Brutus clearly didn’t take kindly to change).
Reasons to Celebrate in March
Despite the fact that March no longer includes new year festivities, there are a few other reasons to celebrate this month.
International Women’s Day takes place on 8th March each year. Honouring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, it is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges that women continue to face in their quest for equality. The first International Women’s Day took place in 1909, as part of the Socialist Party of America’s campaign for female enfranchisement. The global success of the female suffrage movement lead to a drop off in popularity of International Women’s Day, but it was revived by feminism in the 1960s and gained UN sponsorship in 1975. Today it is a particularly useful focus for campaigns to promote women’s rights throughout the world, but especially in developing societies.
St Patrick’s Day takes place on 17th March. It is a public holiday in Ireland, where they take toasting their patron saint very seriously, but it is also popular in other parts of the world due to Irish emigration and everyone else’s desire not to pass up the opportunity for a party. There are some fantastic legends surrounding St Patrick, most of which were generated by his autobiographical text, Confessio, and historians continue to disagree about what the life of the saint was really like. Did he really get kidnapped by Irish pirates at 16 years of age? Did he really give a sermon so disagreeable to Irish snakes that they slithered off into the sea, never to return again?
The juxtaposition of International Women’s Day and St Patrick’s Day (celebrated a mere nine days later) is the perfect example of the somewhat barmy nature of history. Billions of female stories have been lost to posterity because no one thought to educate women or listen to them that much until relatively recently. In contrast, the son of a British deacon from in the 4th Century AD gets to write down some tall tales in his memoirs that become the stuff of celebrated legend hundreds of years later.
It makes almost as much sense as our current celebration of Easter, which is a confused mishmash of sombre yet thankful recollection of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, tales about the Easter Bunny, bunches of daffodils and large numbers of chocolate eggs. Easter is sometimes celebrated in March (it’s not this year, it’s on April 17th, but Easter Sunday can be as early as March 22nd), so deserves a mention in ‘Reasons to Celebrate in March’.
March is spoilt for choice with birthstones, as it has two, aquamarine and bloodstone.
Perhaps the most apt gemstone for the Wild & Fine collection, the word aquamarine comes from the Latin ‘aqua marina’, meaning sea water. The Greeks and Romans believed that wearing aquamarine could protect their sailors from seasickness and from coming to harm during sea storms.
Traditionally associated with tranquillity and harmony, aquamarine is also believed to be a good talisman for anyone who is afraid of public speaking. Wearing aquamarine for a presentation or a performance is understood to help you express yourself with clarity and conviction.
Often over-looked in favour of aquamarine, bloodstone (also known as Heliotrope or Sunstone) is the traditional birthstone for March. This under-rated stone is associated with calmness and grounding, making it a great stone to have to hand in difficult situations. Usually a rich forest green in colour, with red flecks or inclusions, Bloodstone is associated with dispelling negativity and encouraging us to bring the highest, most altruistic aspects of our personalities to the fore.
Inspirational People Born in March
Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel) - 2nd March 1904
Under the guise of Dr Seuss, Theodor Geisel created some of the most popular children’s stories of all time, including The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He’s on our list because, as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College during Prohibition, he was caught drinking gin with nine fellow students. At this time possession and consumption of alcohol was illegal and the college administration insisted that Geisel resign from all his extracurricular activities. As part of this punishment, he was asked to relinquish editorship of the college humour magazine, Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. To continue working on the magazine in secret, he started signing his work Dr Seuss.
We’ve always thought that drinking gin could be the start of great things, and now we have proof!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 6th March 1806
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a poet famed for the courage of her convictions and her independence. She enjoyed a privileged upbringing on a country estate in Herefordshire, but despite her father’s plentiful resources, she was largely self-taught, as few people engaged academic tutors for their daughters at this time (though she did get some tuition in Greek and Latin from a tutor engaged to teach her brother, Edward).
As a teenager, Elizabeth damaged her spine, whilst trying to saddle her pony, and later suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her chest that left her with a chronic cough. Her frail health, combined with the loving yet over-protective attentions of her family meant that Elizabeth lived as a reclusive invalid for much of her early life as a poet. In 1846 she married fellow writer, Robert Browning, and the pair moved to Italy in the hope that the warmer weather would be beneficial to her health.
In Italy she developed a keen interest in politics and her humane and liberal views led her to vocally oppose social injustices such as slavery, child labour, the oppression of the Italians by the Austrians and the restrictions forced upon women in 19th-century society. Although her work lost popularity after her death in 1861, Barrett-Browning is an enduring favourite among feminist critics and she’s on our list of inspiring people with March birthdays because she persisted in her art and her activism despite her ill health and the lack of opportunities available to women in Victorian England.
Roger Bannister 23rd - March 1929 (he also died in March in 2018)
Famous for being the first athlete to run a mile in under 4 minutes, Roger Bannister was also a celebrated neurologist. However, this is not the reason he has made this list. In 1952 Bannister was one of the UK’s best middle-distance runners, tipped to win the 1500m at the Olympics in Helsinki. When he competed in the event, he set a British record but finished in fourth place and missed out on a medal. On returning home, he decided to channel his disappointment into the achievement of an even loftier goal – running a mile in under 4 minutes.
The Daily Telegraph, at the time had described the sub-four-minute mile as “sport’s greatest goal”, something “as elusive and seemingly unattainable as Everest”. Inspired by Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay’s apparently impossible conquest of Everest in May 1953, Bannister ignored physiologists, (who claimed that running the four-minute mile was impossible and attempting to do so endangered an athlete’s health) and started chasing the 4-minute mile. On the morning of 6th May 1954, Roger Bannister did the impossible at Iffley Road running track in Oxford. He is said to have achieved his running record by using scientific training methods and thoroughly researching the mechanics of running.
Flannery O’Connor – 25th March 1925
Self-described as a "pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I'll-bite-you complex", Flannery O’Connor grew up to be a celebrated writer of two darkly comic novels and 32 short stories. However, it’s never the things that we are supposed to remember about people that make them remarkable, it’s the tiny details that make them human and bring them back to life for a moment. Flannery O’Connor loved birds and at high school, deliberately misunderstood the instruction to make a Sunday outfit for herself and made underwear and clothes for her pet duck, which she also brought into school to model it.