What is the Ides of March?
You have heard the phrase "Beware the Ides of March" in one of William Shakespeare's plays. In the play "Julius Caesar," the sage warns Caesar by saying these words. Thus, the phrase revolves around the day, Ides of March.
According to the ancient Roman calendar, the word "Ides" is a Latin word that means the middle of a month. It usually falls on the fifteenth day of the month with 31 days and the thirteenth day for the 30-day months. According to the Roman calendar, it is the 74th day which is now March 15.
During the Roman era, the Ides marked the deadline for paying debts, and it used to start a week before the designated date. The Ides became an ominous day for the debtors who couldn’t settle all their debts as they would get locked up or forcefully pushed into slavery.
Moreover, the day became more infamous for the assassination of Julius Caesar, which took place on March 15, 44 BC. It was a significant turning point in Roman history.
Ides of March All Quick Overview
- Time / Date: March 15
- Category: Cultural/Historical
- Where It’s Marked: Globally
- Why It’s Marked: The Ides of March marks the historical Roman debt-settling date and the assassination date of Julius Caesar.
History Of the Ides of March
The Ides of March gets a bad name for reasons that could have happened at any time of any month. But the real history of the day lies with religious observances and Julius Caeser’s death.
Let's look into the history of the Romans and religious observances associated with the Ides of March.
In the Roman Empire, people did not count the days of the months from first to last but three designated points. The Nones included the fifth or seventh and nine days before the Ides. Then the Ides included the 13th or 15th day of the month, and lastly, the Kalends concluded the month and started the first day of the following month.
According to the Roman calendar, the Ides of March marked the full moon, which was supposedly the sign of the start of a new year as the calendar was of lunar origin.
People held the Feast of Anna Perenna, who is known to be the goddess of the new year. The events following the feast would conclude the festivities of the new year. Usually, people would spend the day drinking, eating, going on picnics, and doing merriment.
There is another story related to religious beliefs. The Ides became a week-long celebration for Cybele and Attis known as the "Holy Week of Festivals." According to Roman history, the goddess Cybele found Attis among the Phrygian river's reeds, who are also believed to have been born there.
The Magna Mater (goddess Cybele) took care of him until March 22, only a week after his birth, when he died under a pine tree. Thus, the day became a part of the finalized Roman calendar as Claudius in 54 AD.
Now, pastors annually cut down a tree, hang a photograph of Attis, and carry it to the Magna Mater temple. Following it, 3-day mourning and the celebration of Attis's rebirth occur on March 25 of the Julian Calendar.
The most unlucky incident that made the Ides of March more ominous in people's eyes was the murder of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar by his senators in 44 BC. Julius Caesar met his death at a Senate meeting where almost 60 conspirators worked to make the murder plan successful. Brutus, Decimus, and Cassius organized the whole ploy when they feared Caesar becoming a dictator.
It is where William Shakespeare, a famous English playwright, decided to spice the scene of his tragic play, "Julius Caesar," by dramatizing the dialogue to "Beware of the Ides of March." Before this tragic incident, history tells that Spurinna, the soothsayer, warned Caesar, saying, "Beware the next thirty days," but he laughed it off. The dialogue stuck to the people and created a negative picture of the day.
Movies and plays like to distort history to make them entertaining for people and to draw their attention. That’s what Shakespeare did, and his play became renowned and prosperous. Still, nowadays, many believe that the Ides of March is a fearful day and everyone should pay their debts by then and avoid any public gatherings.
How to Celebrate the Ides of March
People worldwide celebrate or observe the Ides of March in different ways. The celebrations and events depend on their beliefs. Currently, the event is not so widespread anymore, but in historical times, people used to enjoy their time with family and friends by drinking, doing merriment, and going on picnics.
There was also the ritual of sacrificing a sheep for the Feast of Anna Perenna. Some people would also observe a mourning period of 3 days on this day to commemorate the death of the god Attis.
Countries that Observe the Ides of March
The Ides of March is a global event that many people worldwide observe and celebrate.
Interesting Facts about the Ides of March
As the Ides of March is a terrible day for many people, it should have some interesting facts. Let's have a look at some of them.
- According to the Roman biographer Suetonius, the soothsayer who preached the infamous phrase to Julius was a fortune-teller.
- The conspirators stabbed Julius Caesar 23 times.
- A song named “Vehicle” got popular in the 1970s by a band named “Ides Of March.”
- In 2011, a movie named “Ides of March” was released in the US, where Ryan Gosling starred.
- George Clooney was the director and co-writer of the film “Ides of March.”
- Julius Caesar is believed to be stabbed at Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, now a sanctuary for stray cats.
- According to ancient Roman sources, the estimated time of Julius Caesar's death was approximately 1 p.m.
- A famous animated TV show, "The Simpsons," have a complete episode on the day, Ides of March.
Unique Ides of March Celebration Ideas
We have some amazing ideas for you if you plan to celebrate the Ides of March. Just try it out!
1. Travel to Rome
Rome is a beautiful city and also Italy’s capital. It has a lot of historical incidents associated with it. If you want to observe the day, you can plan a trip to Rome with your family or friends. Visit the historical areas where all of the Julius Caesar incidents took place. Aside from that, you will also get to enjoy their delicious food.
2. Settle all your debts
According to ancient Rome traditions, one must pay all their debts to avoid punishments. Take part in this tradition and pay off your debts. It is also believed to give you some good luck. Start your third month of the year with a fresh beginning.
3. Have a Toga Party
In remembrance of Julius Caesar, you can arrange your toga party. Invite your friends and family and pay tribute to the Roman Empire. You can also participate in different political conversations just for the sake of the day.
4. Perform William Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar”
If you have never seen or taken part in Shakespeare’s play, now is the time. Arrange a small stage show and play out the scenes of “Julius Caesar.” Don’t forget to say its infamous Ides of March phrase!
5. Go wine tasting
Did you know that Romans would always drink wine with their meals? On this Ides of March, visit a wine-tasting program with your friends to pay homage to the traditions of ancient Rome.
6. Watch movies related to the Ides of March.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the movie “Ides of March,” you can do it now. Grab some snacks and go on a movie marathon. Aside from the movie, you can watch documentaries on the ancient Roman Empire.
Ides of March Quotes
Here are a few greetings or quotes to wish your friends and family a happy Ides of March. They will surely be delighted to receive a wish from you.
“Caesar embraces decision. It is as though he felt his mind to be operating only when it is interlocking itself with significant consequences. Caesar shrinks from no responsibility. He heaps more and more upon his shoulders.” — Thornton Wilder
“The only honest reaction and true loyalty we get is from our animals. Once they’re your friends, you can do no wrong.” – Dick Van Patten
“Loyalty is a 24-hour proposition, 24/7. It's not a part-time job.” – Jonathan Moyo
1. Is the Ides of March an unlucky day?
Some do believe the bad omen is valid and can happen to anyone. But many people also believe it can be a bad day for anyone, like any other day of the month.
2. How many conspirators were involved in the murder of Julius Caesar?
About 60 conspirators who were the senators were involved in Caesar’s murder, aside from Brutus, Decimus, and Cassius.
3. Did Caesar say anything to Brutus before dying?
There is a myth that Caesar said “Et Tu, Brute” to Brutus, which means “you too, Brutus,” before dying. But this is not true. Caesar was a warrior and fought against the ambush till his last breath.
Ides of March Observances
|2021||Monday||15 March||Ides of March|
|2022||Tuesday||15 March||Ides of March|
|2023||Wednesday||15 March||Ides of March|
|2024||Friday||15 March||Ides of March|
|2025||Saturday||15 March||Ides of March|
|2026||Sunday||15 March||Ides of March|
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