Seasonal

The Month in Focus: March

March 21, 2014
march

Photography credit: Andy Doyle

It seems only fitting that my haul of images for March’s month in focus post are full of yellows, greens and warm oranges. In the last couple of weeks we have opened our front doors to spring, and what a welcome guest she is! After what feels like an endless winter, most of us are more than happy to invite her in for a cup of tea.

Let’s spend this wonderfully sunny Friday enjoying the best of what the third month of the year has to offer, before putting down our phones, tablets, laptops and computers and going for a walk outside in the sunshine. I know that’s on my list of things to do today!

bunny

Photography credit: David Fulmer

Have you ever heard the saying “he’s as mad as a March hare?”. There’s a reason behind why that old-fashioned phrase exists, and it’s all to do with spring fever. As things start to get a bit warmer, the animals who’ve been snuggled away out of the cold during the winter pop their heads up out of their burrows and start thinking about finding a mate.

The hares seem to go completely bonkers at this time of the year, and will chase each other tirelessly, standing up on their hind legs and “boxing” in order to prove their strength. Even the ladies take part in this frenzy, testing all the chaps to see who is the strongest, and only then considering taking him for a mate. If you’d like to catch this amazing wildlife spectacle, Countryfile magazine has the inside scoop.

marzanna

Photography credit: Madzia Bryll

Marzanna is the Baltic goddess of death and rebirth of nature. In countries like Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic, when spring arrives it is customary to build an effigy and either burn or drown it. As barbaric as the ritual sounds, it is believed that this act puts an end to the dark days of winter, proves victory over death, and in turn makes way for the spring rebirth.

I’m not suggesting you have to start drowning dolls, but if there are any dark demons from winter still clawing at your conscience, perhaps it’s time to send them for a swim?

sleep

Photography credit: Phil and Pam Gradwell

Did you know that March is National Bed Month? How brilliant is that? The Sleep Council have been running their campaign since 1990, and aim to teach us just how valuable a decent night’s sleep is. Their site is packed full of advice, from how to choose the perfect mattress, understanding your body’s sleep cycle better and even how to design your bedroom to enable the perfect nap.

Reading through their hints and tips has really given me food for thought, as I’m definitely guilty of thinking that I’m superwoman and can exist on only five or six hours of sleep a night. I’m sure I’m not alone either, so if you’ve been neglecting one of your body’s most basic needs, make the rest of March count and get to bed that little bit earlier.

vitaminc

Photography credit: Keith Williamson

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements!

In London on the last day of March, children from local primary schools gather in the churchyard of St. Clements Dane to attend a special service. Back in the days when the Thames was much wider than it is now, barges carrying oranges and lemons would pass by the church, possibly giving rise to the famous nursery rhyme we’ve all grown up with.

If you haven’t heard this little ditty before, you can listen to it right here. Despite its quite sweet-sounding opening line, Oranges and Lemons is actually quite a dark song. As each of the London church bells in the song chime their tunes, we get ever closer to an impending execution, harping back to the 1600s and the popularity of such grisly public events.

daffodils

Photography credit: Charlie Marshall

Is it me, or did thousands of daffodils just pop up out of nowhere in the last week or so? I swear I remember walking through Richmond Park and there wasn’t a yellow flower to be seen, now everywhere I look they are proudly announcing the arrival of spring.

I always think of daffodils as such friendly, positive flowers, which is odd when you consider their origins. Their correct name is narcissus, and legend says that they sprung up in abundance around the pool that an ancient Greek chap threw himself into upon falling in love with his reflection. I’m sure the daffodils would have raised their eyebrows, if they’d had any.

three

Photography credit: Phil Roeder

Did you know that March actually used to be the first month of the year? It only became number three in 1752, when we switched to the Gregorian calendar. Prior to this, the Roman New Year was celebrated on March 1st, and the month itself was named after Mars, the god of war. The reason behind this choice isn’t too tricky to understand, seeing as the Romans built their culture on hierarchy, heroism, and battle. Mars ensured a good start to the year.

Interestingly, before he became popular spinning that old “God of War” moniker, Mars was a bit of a hippie back in the day: a fertility and agricultural deity. Along with his long-haired pals Ceres and Cybele, he oversaw the new growth of spring and encouraged the continuation of life. He just doesn’t like to talk about it all that much.

So whatever you’re up to in March, remember to get outside and say hello to spring!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Esther March 25, 2014 at 11:48 am

    National Bed Month? All I needed was another excuse to sleep in haha, thanks!

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