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It’s March. Time to Celebrate!

St. Patrick, Basketball, and Green Bagels

Happy New Year, ancient Romans!

According to the oldest Roman calendars, March was the first month of the year. And it makes sense. That’s the month of spring, or rebirth, of growth.

The Romans only had 10 months of the year, starting in March and ending in December. In fact, September was the seventh month and gets its name from the Latin for seven, or septem. December was the tenth month, named for the Latin word for ten, or decem.

So what happened to January and February? Well, those nameless months were just called winter, miserable, cold winter. Eventually all of this changed, the calendar we know today was expanded to 12 months, we tossed in that odd leap year, and we made March our third month.

St. Patrick and Basketball

While many of us look forward to March so we can celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, it’s also a big month for folks who love basketball. And, believe it or not, there’s a sort of connection between the two.

Patrick was born in Scotland, not Ireland, as many believe. And basketball was invented in Springfield, MA, by James Naismith, the son of Scottish immigrants, who was born in Canada, and later became a physical education teacher. Patrick and Naismith had something else in common, a religious calling. Patrick was a Catholic bishop and Naismith was a Presbyterian minister.

Now we can’t prove that Patrick was also into sports, but we know that on St. Patrick’s Day, many begin the day with a good workout to prepare them for a few pints of Guinness later that evening, or that morning, or even in the afternoon. And anyone can tell you it’s take a good set of legs to play basketball and also to dance the Irish jig.

We Can’t Forget Why We Wear Green

Ireland, the adopted homeland of St. Patrick, is known as the Emerald Isle. If you look at the Irish flag, you’ll see that the green stripe represents the Catholics of Ireland, the orange represents the Protestant population, and the white in the middle symbolizes the peace between the two religions.

But green is not St. Patrick’s color. Early depictions of St. Patrick show him wearing blue, and the official color of the Order of St. Patrick, part of Ireland’s chivalry, was a sky blue known as “St. Patrick’s Blue.”

So why do people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?

Some of it has to do with the shamrock, and the idea that Patrick used the shamrock to teach the pagans of Ireland about the Trinity. How do you explain the concept of three persons in one God? Look at the shamrock, it’s one plant with three leaves. Three, three, three Gods in one!

Of course, we can’t talk about St. Patrick’s Day without mentioning leprechauns. These mischievous little guys were said to wear red and gold jackets with pointy red hats. Somewhere along the line, that got changed to green. Legend has it, they pinch anyone not wearing their favorite color.

Now on every March 17, we don some green clothing, shamrock-shaped glasses and jewelry, dye our bagels green, and put green dye into our beer. In Chicago, we even dye the Chicago River green (as if we had to!).

Now on every March 17, we don some green clothing, shamrock-shaped glasses and jewelry, dye our bagels green, and put green dye into our beer. In Chicago, we even dye the Chicago River green (as if we had to!).

Other Things to Celebrate in March

March is the month when spring officially begins, but you might not know it from the weather. It’s also Women’s History Month, American Red Cross Month, and Fire Prevention Month.

We put a few of our favorite days below, so you can look them up and talk about them with your children, students, family, and friends.

The entire month of March is designated for these causes:

* Women’s History Month

* Deaf History Month

* Irish American Heritage Month

* Expanding Girls’ Horizons in Science and Engineering Month

* National Cheerleader Safety Month

* National Kidney Month

* National Nutrition Month

There are Many Week-Long Observances:

* Read an E-Book Week (second week)

* National Bubble Week (second week)

* Celebrate Your Name Week (second week)

* Act Happy Week (starts on third Monday)

Then We Have Special Days and Holidays

* March 2, Dr. Seuss’s Birthday

* March 5, World Book Day

* March 11, Johnny Appleseed Day

* March 14, National Pi Day

* March 20, International Earth Day

* March 30, Take a Walk in the Park Day