ten best

by Brian Clarey

Ten Best Things About March

Spring begins

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for the advent of March (no pun intended) since the weather started to turn in November. If you’re reading this — and I’m writing it, that means we’ve almost made it to roughly March 21, the first day of spring, otherwise known as the Vernal Equinox. That’s the day — here in the northern hemisphere, anyway — that the earth makes its pivotal move towards the sun every year, and I welcome it the way a man with an itchy rash welcomes a dose of cool, soothing balm.

Daylight savings kicks in

Sure, we lose an hour’s sleep when we “spring ahead,” but it’s a small price to pay for not hearing the alarm clock go off when it’s still pitch-black outside. Cute story: It was initially pitched by Ben Franklin in 1784, while he was living in Paris, France, as a way for Parisians to save money on candles. He intended it as a joke, but then… here we are. I think bifocals started the same way.

The god of war

One would think that March would be the most combative month of the year due to the fact it’s named after Mars, or Ares, the ancient god of war. Mars was the man: son of Jupiter, “husband” of Venus, patron god to the city of Rome and all-around pan-Hellenic badass. But really, March is no more antagonistic a month than, say, August, and way less than February, which towards the end makes me want to slap somebody.

Beware the Ides

Okay, so there was at least one notable murder during the month. Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was murdered on March 15, 44 BC, set upon by a band of his contemporaries in a small room off the floor of the Roman Senate and stabbed 23 times. It’s kind of a long story, but suffice it to say he didn’t see it coming.

Easter/Mardi Gras

The lunar calendar being what it is, the third month of the year usually either contains Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after three days behind a rock, or Mardi Gras, which celebrates pretty much whatever you want it to. Seriously, though, Mardi Gras marks the last day before Lent, when mackerel-snappers begin a 40-day period of selfdenial which may or may not include fasting, the eating of fish on Fridays and priests dressed in purple.

Monthly rites

March is American Red Cross Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, Music in our Schools Month, National Craft Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Noodle Month, National Nutrition Month, Women’s History Month, Youth Art Month and US Foosball Month. Okay, I made that last one up. But it’s no more ridiculous than National Frozen Food Month, right?

St. Patrick’s Day

Pretty sure I’d get creamed if I didn’t mention this one. St. Patrick’s Day falls every year on March 17, a celebration of one of the patron saints of Ireland who purportedly drove all the snakes off the island. More likely he ran off the Druids. Either way, it’s celebrated in Ireland with a national holiday that actually kept the pubs closed until the 1970s. In the US it is celebrated with parades, green stuff, gratuitous Irish references and, unfortunately, copious amounts of vomit.

Pi Day

March 14, or 3-14, is known as Pi Day not because it’s a great day to eat some pie — although it is — but because of that nifty, irrational mathematical constant that could tell you just how much area an actual pie encompasses — as long as it’s a round pie. Pi, of course, equals roughly 3.1415926535, which is why this day is also sometimes called Pi Approximation Day. Pi is also a Greek Letter that my keyboard can make by hitting option p, like this: .

March Madness

Even if you’re not a college basketball fan it’s easy to get caught up in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament that begins each March and causes more work absence than Swine Flu and hangovers combined. Everyone has her own method when filling out his Final Four bracket. My secret: Go with your heart, and pick lots of underdogs. It is worth noting that I have never won a cent on a Final Four pool.

The swallows return

Every March the cliff swallows of San Juan Capistrano make a 10,000-mile migratory journey from their winter home in Argentina to the southern California town from which they take their name. There, they flock at the oldest building still in use in California — the Mission San Juan Capistrano — where the day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day with parades, theater, a feast… and considerably less vomit than the holiday for that other saint.