The month "March" – what does its name mean? The answer will reveal something more than just the naming of a month.
Every day we use words and follow customs without knowing their origin. We write down all the months of the year and never once wonder what the names of those months mean. We accept that that is what people want to call the various months without any rationale behind it. It never occurs to most that everything has a meaning. Let us look at the meaning of “March.”
Image via Wikipedia (Earth and mars)
The word “March” comes from the name of the Roman god of war “Mars.” In fact, the French word for “March” is “Mars.” “Mars” in turn comes from the Latin word “Martius.” Yes, the name of the Roman god is the same name as Mars the fourth planet from the sun. So it seems that when they say “March” they mean “March” as in “March to war.”
The Romans overworked this name of their god of war because not only was March and Mars named after him but the equivalent of Tuesday as well. In Spanish, which came from Latin, the word for Tuesday is “Martes” while in French, another Romance language, the word for Tuesday is “Mardi.” Bear in mind that the Latin word for day was “dies” and French took the “di” from “dies” and added it to most of their days of the week while Spanish took the “es” and did the same. “Mardi” is therefore “Mar[s]” “day.” Tuesday in English comes from a word that means “Tiws day.” Tiwaz was the Germanic god of war, so there is a parallel here between the Latin, Romance and Germanic-English names for “Tuesday.” Note that March is the third month and Tuesday is the third day of the week.
There are names that spring from all this. We have the names “Martin” which means “warlike.” Ironically Martin Luther King Jr. was noted for his belief in non-violence when he and others protested against racism. Yet, it could be said that he warred against the system of the day. “Martinez,” meanwhile, means “son of Martin.
Photo taken in Georgia, USA 2010
“Since “Mars” has to do with “war” one wonders if the English “w” in “war” is not upside down and should really be “mar[s].” Well, war turns things upside down for itself so let us not meddle with the word.
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