Women and Festivities of March

In 1981, Congress approved a Congressional resolution which declared a National Women's History Week. Response was so great that in 1987, Congress approved making the entire month of March Women's History Month. Every year, Americans remember the contributions of women in our history, including Susan B. Anthony, and Margaret Thatcher. The 2009 theme is "Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet," and is dedicated to women who have taken the lead in the environmental movement. Naturally, Rachel Carson, who started the movement with her book, "Silent Spring," is prominent among those women. Other honorees this year include Dr. Alice Hamilton, who was the first person to document the danger of industrial poisons such as lead and phosphorus in the workplace; Marietta Pierce Johnson, who founded the Organic School of Education in Alabama in 1907; and Sunshine Goodmorning, who works for the Washington DC National Park Service Maintenance Office and whose contributions include her very name.

Every October, the cliff swallows fly to Argentina to spend the winter, and for hundreds of years, on March 19, they return to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano in California. They land at the mission as the ringing bells of the old church announce their arrival, causing large crowds of tourists to gather and watch the arrival. A few swallow scouts arrive days before the rest of the flock, but that majority usually arrive on the 19th, which is the feast day of St. Joseph, and begin to rebuild their nests of mud in the church as well as throughout the valley. The locals and tourists celebrate this harbinger of spring with parades and festivals.

March 17 is the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. It is a national holiday in Ireland, and a public or bank holiday in other parts of the world. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and the United States, the day is avidly celebrated and observed, but not an actual holiday. Originally a Catholic holiday, it celebrated the 4th century birth of one of the most successful missionaries in history. Born in Britain to Roman citizens, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by Irish raiders who kept him prisoner in Ireland for 6 years. After he escaped, he felt he was called by God to Christianize Ireland. After 15 years of studying, he was designated the church's second missionary to Ireland. His mission began in 432, and by the time he died in 461, the country was almost entirely Christian. His birthday is typically celebrated with parades, parties, and drinking fests as well as the wearing of something green.  The first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched through the city, playing Irish music. New York's St. Patrick’s Day parade draws up to 2 million people to watch 150,000 people march every year.

On March 2, 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. After living an ordinary childhood, he went to college at Dartmouth, where he climbed through the ranks to become the editor-in-chief of the Jack-O-Lantern, the school's humor magazine. Things were going along well until he and his friends threw a party where alcohol was served and was caught by the school officials. As this was during Prohibition, it was a serious infraction, and his punishment was that he was to quit all of his extracurricular activities. He continued to be a contributor to the Jack-O-Lantern using the pseudonym "Seuss," which was not only his middle name, but his mother's maiden name. He was never actually a physician, though he was well on his way to earning a Ph.D. when he met and married his wife, Helen. He took up the title "Dr." anyway and before his death in 1991, wrote more than 60 children's books, including "The Cat In the Hat," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and "If I Ran the Zoo."

The planet of Uranus was originally discovered in 1690 by John Flamsteed, who did not realize it was a planet. He believed it to be a star and named it 34 Tauri. On March 13, 1781, however, Sir William Herschel discovered it with his telescope and realized it was indeed a planet. He named it "Georgian Sidus," which means "the Georgian planet" in honor of King George III, but was soon changed to planet Herschel. In 1850, the name of the planet was changed to be in line with the tradition of naming planets after mythological gods. In Greek mythology, Ouranos (Caelus) is the god of the sky and the father of Cronus (Saturn) and the grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter), hence the Latinized version, Uranus, was chosen. Uranus is the only planet to be named for a Greek god rather than a Roman one.

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, and his name is synonymous with genius. A theoretical physicist, he is best known for his theory of relativity and for his work on the hydrogen bomb which was used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dr. Einstein dropped out of high school to apply directly to a Swiss college when he was 16. Due to the fact that he had not graduated, he was required to take an entrance exam. He failed to pass that test, though he got a very high score in mathematics and physics. That same year, he first conducted his thought experiment wherein he visualized traveling alongside a beam of light. Einstein was a man of far-flung interests and talents. He died of an aortic aneurysm in 1955.

Famous movie luminaries who celebrate their birthdays in March include Liza Minelli, Jerry Lewis, Bruce Willis, Billy Crystal, Patrick McGoohan, Christopher Walken, Gabe Kaplan, William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy.

A few musicians who were born in March are David Gilmour, Glenn Miller, Micky Dolenz, James Taylor, Nat "King" Cole, Queen Latifah, Mase, and Eric Clapton.

March-born authors include Douglas Adams, Jack Kerouac, and L. Ron Hubbard.

Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Madison, and Grover Cleveland are all Marchians, was Vincent Van Gogh.

Additional resources for March: