Ah, March, renewal after the darkness

NEIGHBORS

March 02, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Something welcome has returned. It crept in so stealthfully, day by day, we barely turned our heads. A few days ago, we did notice.

It's daylight. The days seem suddenly longer.

The Dutch and Saxons named this month for its lengthening days. Until about 300 years ago, the year began in March.

The Romans named March -- Martius -- for their god Mars, who from earliest times was a dual guardian of war and agriculture.

While snow recedes over our brown Carroll tundra, in Rome the grass is turning green. For Romans, the greening of March ensured that their horses could be fed. The march to distant battles could be resumed.

Surrounded by the brown turf of Carroll in March, greenhouses are filling with seeds and soil for summer's petunias and cabbages.

The dozen ritual Roman sacrifices to the Earth, the weather, the goddess of grain and assorted gods who'd protect the crops and cattle have been replaced by timetables of day length and temperature.

Our history is rich with complicated calendar reforms, attempts to correlate lunar cycles with the true length of the year. Revising the calendar in Rome led to months and years that were purposely miscalculated to limit the terms of certain politicians.

By 45 B.C., Julius Caesar noticed something awry; spring was happening in winter. He inserted 85 days into the "year of confusion" and established a new Julian calendar. He was assassinated a year later.

Caesar also established Jan. 1 as New Year's Day, but tradition dies hard. Not until Pope Gregory instituted reform in 1582 did March 25 cease to be the accepted first day of the year by Western Europeans. Protestants, of course, did not accept the pope's latest calendar, and the American Colonies steadfastly began their year in March until about 300 years ago.

In March, it still feels like a new year is about to begin.

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Students from every middle school in the county are invited to North Carroll High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The high school drama club will present theatrical workshops scaled to middle school students who aspire to be on stage.

The day costs $5, to cover a lunch of pizza and soda. There is no registration; just arrive in comfortable clothes.

The workshops take students through auditioning skills, the effects of theatrical makeup and lighting, how to use mime techniques, how to sing and dance as a group, and how to improvise a monologue.

The high school thespians will perform selections from stage songs and drama and comedy scenes. The day ends with small performances of what has been learned.

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