The name of March comes from Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named after Mars, the Roman god of war, and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year's celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.
March 1 began the numbered year in Russia until the end of the 15th century. Great Britain and its colonies continued to use March 25 until 1752, when they finally adopted the Gregorian calendar (the fiscal year in the UK continues to begin on the 6th April, initially identical to 25 March in the former Julian calendar). Many other cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.
March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and part of Africa) and the first month of fall or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, part of Africa, and Oceania).
In Finnish, the month is called maaliskuu, which is believed to originate from maallinen kuu, during March, earth finally becomes visible under the snow (other etymological theories have however been put forward). In Ukrainian, the month is called березень/berezenʹ, meaning birch tree, and březen in Czech. Historical names for March include the SaxonLentmonat, named after the March equinox and gradual lengthening of days, and the eventual namesake of Lent. Saxons also called March Rhed-monat or Hreth-monath (deriving from their goddess Rhedam/Hreth), and Angles called it Hyld-monath.
In Slovene, the traditional name is sušec, meaning the month when the earth becomes dry enough so that it is possible to cultivate it. The name was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript. Other names were used too, for example brezen and breznik, "the month of birches". The Turkish word Mart is given after the name of Mars the god.
^Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 47–48 and 53.
^Michael Lipka, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Brill, 2009), p. 37. The views of Georg Wissowa on the festivals of Mars framing the military campaigning season are summarized by C. Bennett Pascal, "October Horse," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 85 (1981), p. 264, with bibliography.
^H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981), p. 84; Gary Forsythe, Time in Roman Religion: One Thousand Years of Religious History (Routledge, 2012), p. 14 (on the uncertainty of when the change occurred).
^Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic, p. 85ff.
^Aïcha Ben Abed, Tunisian Mosaics: Treasures from Roman Africa (Getty Publications, 2006), p. 113.