Daffodils are making a welcome appearance, the days are getting longer and barring the odd few days here and there, the worst of the winter is hopefully behind us.
March is with us and with it is associated a phrase most of you will be familiar with.
Mad as a March hare is used to describe someone we think to be a crazy, mad or irrational.
We look at the origin of the idiom
The phrase is believed to be derived from the observed antics, disputably said to occur only in the March breeding season, of the European hare.
These include boxing other hares, jumping around for no obvious reason and displaying other odd behaviour.
“The phrase is an allusion that can be used to refer to any other animal or human who behaves in the excitable and unpredictable manner of a ‘March hare,” one explanation says.
According to phrases.org.uk, the phrase has been in continuous use since the 16th Century, with the first known citation coming from Sir Thomas More’s 1529 The supplycacyon of soulys. He wrote: “As mad not as a march hare, but as a madde dogge.”
Centuries later, Lewis Carroll used the idea of a mad March hare in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “The March Hare ... as this is May, it won’t be raving mad - at least not so mad as it was in March.”
All said and done, its now thought that hares display their rather odd behaviour throughout the breeding season, and not just in March. So the saying, strictly speaking, is incorrect.
That said, the excitable and bounding March hare has gained a reputation, which it seems no amount of boxing and jumping can get rid off.
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