Happy first day of Spring! I hardly feel ready to be this far along in the month—March seems to be flying by. Is yours? But I have some March-related random thoughts to share.

St. Patrick’s Day was just two days ago. In New England, where I live, we have lots of people of Irish descent, so St. Patrick’s Day is lively and in many places includes parades, not just busy pubs. I imagine that in Regency-era Ireland, the day would have been celebrated, but in Regency England I expect not.

Why? First and foremost, because there was still some pretty strong anti-Catholic sentiment lingering in England at the time, although it was slowly improving. Celebrating a “saint’s day” would have been considered papist. Yes, they did celebrate Valentine’s Day, but not in any religious connection–only as a day for giving or exchanging love tokens and sentiment.

Second, St. Patrick’s Day was a distinctly Irish observance. Prejudice against the Irish was still fairly strong, too, apart from their chosen religious persuasion, Catholic or Protestant. English upper classes viewed the Irish (in general) as uneducated ruffians, rather the same view many had about the Scots. Of course, the “uneducated” part was partially unavoidable for many Irish, since the English then still did not allow Catholics to attend universities. I haven’t researched this, but I have the sense the working classes also harbored prejudice against the Irish, partly taking their cue from the upper classes above them, but also seeing them as competition for much-needed jobs.

I recently read G. L. Robinson’s new Regency romance release, Repairing a Broken Heart, which is set in Ireland for much of the story. Among the things I liked about it, besides the unusual setting and the background about horse breeding and selling, was how well the author handled depictions of the various Irish characters and the attitudes and tensions stemming from the prejudices and from the occupation of Ireland by the British military at that time.


Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is also St. Gertrude’s Day? I just learned this, and of course can’t resist a rabbit hole so had to go and learn all about her. She lived in what is now Belgium in the 7th century, became a nun and the abbess of a “double” monastery (men & women) founded by her mother at Nivelles, partly to escape from politics and unwanted marriages designed around wealth and power-grabbing. She did a lot of good works, did a couple of miracles (required for sainthood) and is the patron saint of gardeners, travelers, and widows. She is also associated with pest prevention—notably mice and rats—and so became associated with cats. A modern view of her makes her out as also the patron saint of cats, something endearing to me!

She does have an Irish connection besides sharing her date with St. Patrick. She befriended many traveling Irish monks who often stayed at the monastery in Nivelles. One of them predicted she would die on March 17 (as she did) and told her that St. Patrick (whose life was much earlier) was waiting to greet her spirit.



Lastly, today is the first day of spring, the date of the vernal equinox. Well, it barely falls inside today’s date, since it will occur this evening at 11:06:20 p.m. EDT. So technically, it will occur on March 20 in some parts of the northern hemisphere! (Of course it’s the start of autumn in the southern hemisphere. As our days become longer, theirs will be getting shorter.)

But if the start of spring feels a little early to you, there’s reason. This is said to be the earliest spring equinox occurrence in the past 128 years! The reasons are more about calendars and the imprecise ways we mark time than any natural cause—factors related to leap years and daylight savings time. Are you interested in those complications? If so, check out this article at space.com. I have to admit trying to follow it all made my brain hurt, LOL! But I wish you a safe and happy spring, all the same!