March 1 – the original start of the Roman Calendar

March 1 is an important day – not only are you required to say “White Rabbits” before you speak to anyone else on the day, to ensure good luck for the rest of the year, but March 1 was also the original start of the year in the Roman calendar.

It is not known when the New Year was changed to January 1 in the Roman Empire – the Julian calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar in 46BC and this is when the change might have taken place. It is believed January was chosen because the god Janus looks both ways – ie at the old year passing and the new year approaching.

Poppies poke their heads out at the Circus Maximus in Rome in March

March 1 is also St David’s Day – St David resisted the Norman invasion of the lands that form Wales and was a considered a saint as a result.

As for white rabbits, the origins of this are varied – some people say it should be said at the start of every month with an R in the name; others at the start of every month for good luck. It would seem to be a throwback to the old Roman calendar – or maybe because March is when rabbits start popping their heads up out of their burrows after winter.

March 1 is also the start of spring for meteorologists – even though the weather might not agree!

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Strolling up Via Vittorio Veneto in the spring sunshine 


Featured image: Borghese Gardens in March

Images copyright A. Meredith

2 thoughts on “March 1 – the original start of the Roman Calendar

  1. In India we have Holi- the spring festival – in March. This year it is March 02, although some people will start throwing water and colour today. The beginning of the Hindu year is around 15 April!


    1. Thank you for giving insight into Hindu spring celebrations – I have just remembered to say White Rabbits and my daffodils for St David are coming into bloom. I hope spring arrives soon, although currently it does not look as if it will!


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