Italian Language Blog

Marzo Posted by on Mar 3, 2011 in Culture

The name of the month marzo (March) comes from the Roman god of the war Mars.

Principali Festività (Main Festivals):

On the 8th of March we celebrate la Giornata Internazionale della Donna (International Woman’s Day), also known as La Festa della Donna (Woman’s Festival). In March 2009 I wrote an article about the origins and traditions of this festival. You can read all about it here:

The 19th of March is dedicated to San Giuseppe sposo di Maria (Saint Joseph husband of Mary), and on this day we celebrate La Festa del Papà (Father’s Day).

The 21st of March marks the beginning of La Primavera (Spring), and some towns celebrate this date with un falò (a big bonfire), which symbolizes the end of winter.

Carnevale (Carnival), being linked to Easter, doesn’t have a fixed date. The last week of Carnival is called la Settimana Grassa (lit. the Fat Week). Giovedì Grasso (Fat Thursday), which this year falls on Thursday the 3rd of March, marks the beginning of  La Settimana Grassa, which ends on Martedì Grasso (Shrove Tuesday, lit. Fat Tuesday), the 8th.

Wednesday the 9th of March, Mercoledì delle Ceneri (Ash Wednesday) marks the end of festivities and the beginning of Quaresima (Lent), which is (or was in ‘ye goode olde days’!) the period of forty days of penance used as a physical and spiritual preparation for Easter.

This year we’re going to have an extra holiday, La Festa dei 150 anni dell’Unità d’Italia (Italy’s 150th Unification Anniversary), which will fall on Thursday the 17th of March. I’ll write about this in a future article.

Tradizioni (Traditions):

The last three days of March are called "I Giorni della Vecchia" (The old woman’s days) or "Giorni imprestati" (borrowed days). Once upon a time, according to an old legend, March had only twenty eight days. On the last day of the month an old woman, already anticipating the warmth of Spring, decided to take her sheep out to the fields. As she was going she said, in a mocking way: "March, you can’t do me any more harm because it’s already April!". March was very offended by her words, so he asked April if he could borrow three days from him, which he used to punish the old woman with an extra spell of winter weather.

Detti (Sayings):

Traditionally the month of March is characterized by very unstable weather, so much so that we use the expression "esser nato di marzo" (to be born in March) to describe a very inconstant, whimsical person, and there are many proverbs which refer to the instability of the weather in March. The other common characteristic of March detti (sayings) is their reference to the main agricultural jobs such as the work on la vigna (the vine).

Marzo pazzerello, c’è il sole, prendi l’ombrello Crazy March, it’s sunny, take the umbrella
Marzo: un sole e un guazzo March: a sun and a shower
Non c’è marzo così bello senza neve sul cappello There is not such a beautiful March without snow on your hat
A marzo, pur con il tempo bello, non uscire senza l’ombrello In March, even with nice weather, don’t go out without the umbrella
Sole di marzo, onda di mare, pianto di donna non ti fidare Do not trust the March sun, the sea wave, a woman’s crying
San Giuseppe vecchierello, ancora fuoco e mantello Old St.Joseph, keep the fire and the cape (on the 21st of March is still cold!)
Fine di marzo, primi di aprile, ancora freddo può venire End of March, beginning of April, more cold can still come
Vento di marzo, odore di primavera Wind of March, smell of Spring
Al primo tuono di marzo, la serpe esce dal balzo At the first thunder of March, the snake comes out of the crag
Marzo tinge e april dipinge March stains and April paints
A marzo taglia e pota, se non vuoi la botte vuota In March cut and prune, if you don’t want an empty barrel
Ramo corto, vendemmia lunga Short branch, long grape harvest
Per la Vergine Annunziata, la vigna sia preparata For the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (25th of March), the vine must be ready
Marzo asciutto, ricco frutto Dry March, rich fruit

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  1. William Auge:

    Salve Serena,
    E’ sembra come Marzo e’ un mese della festa e la celebrazione.

    tanti auguri, William

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