The Ides Of March

Spring is drawing near.  How do I know?  Because I have my own seasonal calendar, that’s how.

Yes, some time ago, I sat down and mapped out my own seasonal calendar.  Here are my own personal seasons:

Spring: March 16 – May 31

Summer: June 1 – September 15

Fall: September 16 – November 31

Winter: December 1 – March 14

* Disclaimer: These seasons are only applicable to the South and Texas.  It is common knowledge that Northern seasons are dictated by a neurotic groundhog.  Meanwhile, California remains immune from this phenomenon.  As if that’s not infuriating enough, some of people who live there even have the audacity to gloat about it . . . I won’t name names. * cough, cough *

My calendar takes into account climatic, cultural, and literary factors.  As well as a healthy dose of intuition and sports analogies.  So let me explain how the year progresses.

Spring starts on March 16, the day after the Ides of March.  (I will explain the symbolism in a moment.)  Plants start blossiming, animals emerge from hibernation. “March Madness” tips off in college basketball.  College kids leave town for Spring Break.

Then, on June 1, summer begins.  It gets hot.  Real hot.

Around the middle of September, the temperature starts to cool.  Plants start dying.  Animals start dying too, because this is when hunting season begins.  The beginning of fall is ushered in by the beginning of conference play in college football, and the last few weeks of major leauge baseball.  Thanksgiving marks the end of fall up North. Down here, fall lasts for another week.

By the time December rolls around, things have changed.  Baseball is over, the regular season in college football is over, the NFL has become boring, and sports like the NHL and NBA are in full swing.  College kids, particularly law students, are suddenly faced with a grueling schedule of exams.  Winter is the season of death. So it is poetic justice that the end of winter comes on the eve of the Ides of March, the day of Julius Ceasar’s fabled assassination.  At midnight on March 14, my year comes to a symbolically sudden and climactic end.

The Ides of March — March 15 — is in neither the old year nor the new. It is the bridge between them. Then, the next day (March 16) a new year is born.

Celebrating New Year’s Day on March 16 is also supported by cultural considerations. For example, spring daylight savings time always takes place in the days just before March 16 — a noticeable change to everyone’s sleeping schedule. Also, the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament (“March Madness”) always begins after March 15. As does Spring break at most American universities. These are classic traditions, and serve as great markers for the beginning of spring. Finally, this date will ensure that the first mass of Lent will always take place during the winter. (The Sunday after Ash Wednesday can never occur later than March 14.)

Still, one thing has always bothered me.  Why does the calendar year end in the dead of winter? It just doesn’t feel right, and it throws me off.  We should celebrate New Year’s when things are coming back to life, not when things are dead.  It’s just unnatural.  I wish I could declare March 16 the “new” New Year’s Day. I think Mother Nature would back me up on this one.

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