be when?

I have set out today to answer a ponderous question I know a lot of people are asking. Why should I, my name not being Caesar, beware the Ides of March? All right, maybe you’re not phrasing it in that particular manner, especially if your name is Caesar. And maybe you had no idea that today, March 15th, is celebrated as the Ides of March. as it has been for centuries. But I can’t help of either one of those unfortunate situations.

As anyone who sat through enough English classes knows, Shakespeare warned Caesar about this particular day, but his warning was not heeded. Caesar went to the Senate anyway, he died anyway, and, as often happens in Shakespeare, a whole lot of other people died anyway as a result of the first dead person doing something stupid. Always listen in English class.

So, for those who have wondered what the Ides of March is, well, it is the same thing as the Ides of just about any other month. The middle. It is not, as one might suppose, always, or even usually, the 15th. Sometimes , specifically in January, February, April, June, August, September, November, and December, it is the 13th. In any month containing a ‘d’ it is the 12th. In any month containing a ‘y’ you’re not legally allowed to celebrate it unless you willingly jump into Lake Michigan in a bikini. (Guys, too.) Strangely, people tend to celebrate only the Ides of July for this reason.

Factually, the Ides were never particularly bewared prior to Shakespeare. It was just another way of saying midmonth and telling time prior to the advent of Swiss watches and Y2K. Its origins were astrological, which explains why the days would shift in various months, since the moon is not known to cooperate well with the Roman calendar.

Two other days also received names, the 1st of the month (which did not vary and was called Kalends) and the 7th or 5th, referred to as Nones. Without paper calendars or palm pilots, people counted days by referencing these three points. How they did this when two of them changed from month to month I can’t say, but the Romans were resourceful. Or was that the Trojans? Had Caesar discontinued this silly system rather than reaffirm it in his Julian calendar, maybe his fate would have been different. I think Congress should take note of that next time they’re considering, I don’t know, reinforcing our reliance on oil or something.

Having spent the entire weekend around a knife-wielding crazy person (no, really; perfectly serious on that one), it’s a bit too late for me to celebrate today by looking around for persons hiding daggers in their cloaks. Maybe I will read Shakespeare. This is a good way to celebrate any day, I think. Or maybe, I’ll challenge someone in my house to a fencing duel. Yes, we really could do that. You have no idea what goes on here. And some days, you don’t want to.

But the real question: how did you celebrate Pi Day? Scrumptiously, I hope.

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