Today is the first day of March; happy St David’s Day to everyone in Wales.
Until 1752, we’d also have been wishing each other ‘Happy New Year’ and in some ways, with new life bursting forth, it makes more sense to celebrate the new year now, rather than in dreary January.
For the last few mornings, my 6.00am alarm has been joined by a small choir of birds – not quite the full performance just yet, but nevertheless, a welcome sign that spring is here.
And last night, as I stood outside to watch the sunset, the birds were still calling – it’s so good to have them back.
The old saying goes – ‘March; in like a lion, out like a lamb’, but today, here in my corner of Bedfordshire, March is definitely doing a very credible impression of being a lamb. The sun has broken through the foggy mists of early morning, and I’m now sitting here, bathed in warm, soft sunlight.
But March is unpredictable and a lion could still roar.
The Saxon name for this month was hrēthmōnath – probably meaning ‘rough-month’. And during the French Revolution, the 20th February to the 21st of March, was known as Ventôse – meaning ‘windy’.
It’s too soon to put the winter woollies away.
Today is also Saint David’s Day – the patron saint of Wales. David is one of those saints whose story is a delightful mixture of myth, mystery and a smattering of facts. You can choose your own version – I like the idea from Geoffrey of Monmouth, that David was the uncle of King Arthur.
According to some legends, St David is also responsible for corpse candles – the lights that are said to be seen, especially in parts of Wales, to presage a death. The story goes that David asked God to give his people a sign that death was approaching, so they could suitably prepare themselves.
Far too lovely a day today though, to think of such sad portents.