March always brings two sayings to mind. The origins and meanings of both fascinate me.

The first is  “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”

Old Man Winter doesn’t want to turn loose which is why March is said to come in like a lion—roaring with snow, ice, blustery winds, and cold temperatures—and end on a gentle, spring note.

While the adage most likely refers to the weather, other sources trace its origins to the stars. In the night sky, you can see two constellations on the western horizon – Leo the Lion and Aries the Ram (or lamb).

Leo rises in early March, coming in “like a lion.” By the end of the month, Leo is overhead, while Aries is setting on the western horizon. Hence, the month goes out like a lamb.

Another theory claims the saying is biblical and the animal references are symbolic. The problem is that conjecture is theologically inaccurate. Jesus came to earth as a lamb and will return as the Lion of Judah, backward from the myth.

Around here, our March arrived with temperatures soaring to the eighties and high winds! No snow, no cold. Kinda contradicts the saying.

Perhaps the best solution for what the saying means is to take it at face value. March may start with fierce weather, but it’s always a clear signal spring is coming.

Next, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

I first heard the saying while studying William Shakespeare‘s Julius Caesar in high school. You’re probably familiar with the soothsayer’s warning too.

Not only did Shakespeare’s words stick, but the date, March 15 became branded with a dark and gloomy connotation.

But the origin of the phrase was not sinister. March 15 was a normal day in the Roman calendar meaning halfway through the month and coincided with the rise of the full moon.

Ides comes from the old Latin verb iduare, which meant “to divide.” Every month has an Ides. In March, May, July, and October ides fell on the 15th, and in the other months, it came on the 13th.

During Roman times, the March ides was the deadline for settling debts. So perhaps, some Romans did consider the date ominous even before Shakespeare dramatized the 44 B.C. assassination of Julius Caesar.

Unfortunately, the soothsayer’s warning in Shakespeare’s play forever linked the date with bad luck.

Check out these things associated with March 15:

  1.  Smithsonian list of historical events that have occurred on March 15.
  2. The UK’s Independent’s five worst events that have happened on March 15

Terrible things can happen any day. So can good things:

11 Wonderful Things That Have Happened on the Ides of March

If I should receive any warnings about the Ides of March, I’m going to side with caution. I don’t want a day like the one Julius Caesar had.