桜咲く日本、アイルランドの守護聖人、イースター・・・3月にまつわる行事やフレーズを知ろう【Small Talk】


Thoughts on March(3月について思うこと)

Goodbye, Winter

Happy New Year! Oops, now that we are not using the ancient Roman calendar, March is no longer the first month of the year. Sorry. Happy Third Month! In that old calendar, a year was 10 months long, beginning in March and ending in December. At that time, January and February, unnamed at the time, were considered so unimportant they were just lumped together in a period called “winter.” Because military campaigns resumed after that period, “March” is named for the Roman god of war, Mars.

Perhaps March really should still be the start of the new year because it boasts the vernal equinox – the first day of spring, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere – and marks the start of so many new beginnings.




Merry March

This month is jam-packed with special days. Let’s start with the Hinamatsuri Festival, also known as Dolls’ Day or Girls' Day. This Shinto holiday, celebrated on March 3 every year here in Japan, is aimed at the healthy growth, prosperity and happiness of young girls. Not long after, on March 14, known as “White Day,” grownup females get their day, in a way, as men present them with boxes of white chocolate or marshmallow treats, among other delights, in return for any gifts received on Valentine’s Day. Did you know that White Day was originally called Marshmallow Day? Created in Japan in 1978, this commercial holiday has now spread to several other Asian countries, including South Korea and China. Around this time, many stores display tempting items wrapped in lovely white packaging.

Just a few days later, on March 17, white changes to green – at least in Tokyo. Yes, it will be St. Patrick’s Day, held in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, who died on that date in A.D. 461. The biggest Irish event in Japan is the St. Patrick Day’s parade, held annually in Tokyo’s Omotesando area. But the top spot for such a parade goes to New York City, where an estimated 2 million people attend each year! By the way, the Irish say that everyone – yes, you too – is a little Irish on “St. Paddy’s Day.”〔*1〕

Easter, one of Christianity’s major holidays, falls on March 31 this year. The date changes every year because it is always held on the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. Many families, even if they are not religious, celebrate by hunting for Easter eggs, having a special feast for dinner and eating chocolate bunnies. I always feel a little guilty biting off the head of a cute little rabbit. But, mmm ...

Have you heard the old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb”? It stems from an ancient belief that if the start of the month is bad – like a roaring lion – then the end of the month will have great weather – gentle like a lamb. And, conversely, if March comes in like a lamb, it is said to go out like a lion.






  • 〔*1〕St. Paddy’s Day / 聖パトリックの日:「Paddy(パディ)」は、アイルランド人に多い名前「Patrick」の愛称として使われている。これにちなんで、「Saint Patrick's Day(聖パトリックの日)」も非公式に「St. Paddy’s Day」と呼ばれることがある。

Springing into Spring

Back in olden times, spring was known as “lent,” from the Old English word “lengten,” which meant “to make longer.” Spring days are indeed longer, and without any electricity, long sunny days were even more important back then. In the 1300s, “lent” was replaced by “springing time,” as plants started springing once again from the earth.

March is one of the most special months in Japan. Depending where you are in the country, the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom or are already in their full glory by the end of the month. Let’s all march into spring with a spring in our step!


昔は、春は「lent」として知られていました。これは、「長くなる[する]」を意味する古英語の「lengten」から来ています。春の日々は確かに長くて、電気のない当時は晴れた日が長く続くことがいっそう重要でした。1300年代には、「lent」から「springing time」に取って代わりました。植物が大地から湧き出るように再び芽生え始めるからです。



Goodbye, Winter

lump ~を(…と)ひとまとめにする、一様に扱う[考える]
military campaign軍事行動[作戦]
vernal equinox春分(点)

Merry March

tempting 心をそそる、魅力的な
patron saint守護聖人
stem from ~~から生じる、~に由来する

Springing into Spring

glory 壮観、全盛


This phrase refers to cleaning out one’s home and belongings. Japanese do their major house cleaning before the New Year, but North Americans do it in the spring. “I am not going out this weekend. I’m going to be spring-cleaning my house.”


spring fever(春先の憂うつさ)

This refers to the mood changes people experience around this time. Sometimes they feel a little more restless or lazier than usual. “I have spring fever. I need to get out of the house and go for a walk.”


as mad as a March hare(気が狂ったように、頭の変な)

This idiom describes someone who is behaving eccentrically or irrationally, likening their behavior to the frenzied antics of hares during their mating season in March. “My husband was as mad as a March hare after I dented his new car.”


Beware the Ides of March!(3月15日を警戒せよ!)

This famous phrase from Shakespeare's play “Julius Caesar” serves as a warning to be cautious of potential dangers or betrayal, especially around the middle of March. “Oh, your flight is on March 15? Oh, dear. Beware the Ides of March!”


no spring chicken(もう子どもでは[若くは]ない)

This phrase is used to describe a person who is no longer young or has a lot of experience. “Yuko looks so young, but actually she is no spring chicken!”


英語コラム執筆:Margaret Stalker

英語を学び、英語で学ぶための語学情報ウェブサイト「ENGLISH JOURNAL」が、英語学習の「その先」にあるものをお届けします。 単なる英語の運用能力にとどまらない、知識や思考力を求め、「まだ見ぬ世界」への一歩を踏み出しましょう!

素材:from canva


2024 07