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March is the month when the first whiffs of Spring start to be in the air in the northern hemisphere, a time of fresh breezes, opening buds, the last snow thawing, and the first migrating birds coming back from the south in many areas of the world. Strangely, though, for such a pleasant month, the name of March has an origin that is anything but peaceful and pretty. The month is named for Mars, the Roman god of war -- because this was the month when the weather was warm enough for the Roman legions to take to the field, conquering and enslaving people in other countries.
Fortunately, we no longer need to worry about invading armies burning down our houses and taking over our countries every March, but if you live somewhere where you can sometimes see hares, you might see them romping and leaping around oddly, or seeming to hold 'boxing matches' with each other. This has caused people to coin the phrase "mad as a March hare," associated March with madness, and even prompted the creation of a character named the March Hare in the famous story Alice in Wonderland. The fact is that this is the start of the hare breeding season, and this makes the hares act in these strange ways because they are excited. They may get so wrapped up in romance that they become careless and don't notice other creatures, such as people, nearby, adding to the impression that they have gone insane.
One of the strangest local festivals caused by the warmer weather - which might make you wonder if the madness of the March hares had spread to people, too - is the Burning of the Socks. This holiday is observed only in Annapolis, Maryland, on the Spring Equinox, which falls on either March 20th or 21st depending on the year. A bonfire is built and people throw socks and pantyhose into it, symbolizing that it's Spring, and they won't need socks again until the Autumn Equinox. Of course, this is the theory, and the reality is that everyone still wears socks except when the weather is very hot, but the Burning of the Socks has become a tourist attraction and an excuse for eating a lot of seafood as part of the "holiday feast" after the socks have been ritually burnt.
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March is known as a windy month, and although the weather doesn't always fit neatly into people's expectations, March actually does tend to have strong winds more often than all other months except November. Although this might seem hard to explain, it's actually because the month is the boundary between winter and summer. Without going into a lot of science, wind is caused by high and low pressure areas - spots where the air is sinking or rising because of temperature. High pressure areas are spots where air is sinking, and when it hits the ground, it flows outward towards the low pressure areas. In March, there tend to be a lot of very strong low pressure areas in the north - what is left of winter - and strong high pressure areas in the south - the first start of summer. The wind rushes between these different areas, creating the famous March winds that make the month "come in like a lion and go out like a lamb."
Whether it's the happy madness of a March hare or a Maryland sock burner, the start of an ancient Roman campaigning season or the winds that blow between the battling forces of summer and winter, March has plenty of strange facts to make it interesting and set it apart from the other months of the year.