March is here. Does the saying – March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb – really apply and where did this saying originate?
There are some theories on where this famous saying started centuries ago. One involves astronomy and the night sky, and another is the perceived connection of changing weather as winter turns to spring during the month. At the beginning of March, the constellation Leo (the lion) is most prominent in the night sky. By the time the calendar turns to April, the spring season has started and the constellation Aries (the ram or lamb) is most prominent in the night sky.
Weather-wise, the start of March can still provide a fierce bite of a lion as winter weather persists. By the end of the month, winter’s fury is essentially over as longer warmer days take hold, and on farms, new lambs are born.
One of the earlier citations of this famous saying is in Thomas Fuller’s 1732 collection of writings, Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs: Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. The saying – Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb – is within this publication. There are a number of March weather related proverbs in the publication, but this saying is one that has survived the test of time.
The relation of this saying to March weather has some merit. Centuries ago, there was no science field of meteorology in place. People looked to the heavens for signs of changing weather and seasons. March is a season of transition from winter to spring, and can be quite variable as winter weather tries to hang on as the days get longer and warmer, resulting in potentially significant swings in temperature and precipitation.
Heading into this March, a change in the relatively dry weather pattern since mid-January has evolved to a milder wetter pattern to start the month. Periods of rain have returned to the North Sound with snow in the mountains. After heavy above average snowfall following Thanksgiving, the recent drier period saw the mountain snowpack fall well behind average. The mountain snowpack usually peaks for the season around April 1st. So this change to a wetter weather pattern will offer the opportunity to add to the snowpack in the mountains through the end of the month.
With this weather pattern change, March is coming in like a lion. The monthly seasonal outlook shows cooler and wetter than average conditions for March. The question then is will March go out like a lamb.
Historic weather proverbs can be traced to Greek philosophers and their studies of the stars. Those who set sail on the high seas and farmers who time their crops also have used these weather sayings for centuries.
As our March weather proceeds, will the ‘Luck of the Irish’ be with us for our weather going out like a lamb?