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Mad March Events
Historically, March has always been an important month. Not only was it the time of spring and birth, but it also ushered in the New Year for the Ancient Romans, carrying with it all those promises of new and prosperous beginnings.
Yet there’s another side to March – a darkly destructive, twofaced streak that mirrors its Roman namesake Mars, the God of War. It was in March that Caesar was stabbed side 23 times by his Senators, while as the saying goes: it ‘comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb’.
All in all, a bit of a fickle month then – a fact that’s more than reflected in the events it heralds worldwide. From pyrotechnics to penises(!), through paint and processions, there’s something about March that makes everything go as mad as the proverbial hare!
The Spring Equinox – 20-21st March; Chichen Itza, Mexico
It’s actually quite hard to categorize the equinoxes at Chichen Itza. It goes without saying that there’s a celestial vibe to events, but the whole thing is also an almost overwhelming testament to human mathematical and architectural achievement.
What happens is absolutely incredible: On the 20th and 21st March, when the length of daytime is exactly equal to the length of nighttime, thousands gather round the ancient Mayan ruin at Chichen Itza and gaze as the temple’s steps cast the shadow of a snake creeping down towards the ground.
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The Festival of Holi – 11-13th March; Central Asia
Continuing with the astronomical theme, the Festival of Holi begins on March’s Full Moon, one day after the second equinox at Chichen Itza. The first major festival in the Hindu calendar, there’s a colorful hue to celebrations here…
While the first day of Holi is signified through the lighting of fires, it’s on the second day that things really take off. People all over Northern India, Nepal, and Mauritius spend the day throwing colored water around. Well, that’s what they claim it is, anyway – in reality it’s more like paint!
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St. Patrick’s Day – 15th March; Dublin, Ireland
Unlike the multicolored festivities of Holi, there’s only one color that reigns supreme during St. Patrick’s Day. Green, green, and more green will again descend upon Dublin (and much of the world) on the 15th March, as people party on down to all things Irish.
Well, Ok, it’s not all green – there’s a lot of orange hanging around, and black Guinness, too! And contrary to popular believe, it’s not all about drinking, either, with a host of fantastic processions entertaining the thousands who line the streets.
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Las Fallas – 19th March; Valencia, Spain
From one Saint’s Day to another: Las Fallas has all the fun and revelry of St. Patrick’s Day, although it comes wrapped up in a rather different package. The name of the game here is fire, and lots of it…
Over a five day period leading up to St. Joseph’s Day, huge satirical statues made of papier-mache are displayed throughout the city of Valencia. Then, come the 19th, they’re set on fire! This one’s all about noise and fun, with the spectacle – and the drinking! – lasting until the sun comes up.
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Tagata Shrine Hohen Festival – 15th March; Nagoya, Japan
For a wholly different type of passion, head to the village of Komati (just north of Nagoya City), where what is surely one of the most bizarre Harvest Festivals takes place every year on the 15th of March. Basically, Komati celebrates the harvest (and continuing fertility), by going completely penis-mad.
In order to offer a symbol of fertility to a designated deity, the residents of the small town carry a hulking great phallus through the streets, before setting it down in front of a shrine. Meanwhile, onlookers cling to smaller incarnations, while snacking cheerfully on penis-shaped foods.
It may be the least conventional of an unconventional bunch of events in March, but Chiwawa Matsuri is a wholesome, and not remotely debauched, affair.
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