A taste of Gaelic – Am Màrt – March

‘Am Màrt’ is the Scottish Gaelic for the month March (pronounced ‘am marsht’ with the ‘a’ long as in aah).

As with the other months in the Gaelic calendar, the month of March itself may have been a period of time tied in with the weather and the season rather than fixed dates as we have in our calendar today. As such, there is much debate as to what defines the month of March and what period of time it originally marked. The Gaelic word as we have it today like the English word, is thought to be linked to the Latin word ‘Martius’ and Mars the Roman god of war and was the first month of the ancient Roman calendar. It marked the time when people became active again after the winter and a time for agricultural activity. This concept was the same here in the Highlands and so ‘Am Màrt’ is said to signify the sowing season in different areas.

But this was also a time when the weather could still be bitter and with weather lore such as ‘gaoth gheur nam Màrt’ (the cutting March wind) and ‘feadagan agus gobagan e, tuilleadh gu Fèill-Pàdraig’ (whistling and biting winds on to St. Patrick’s day) warning us of the north winds. Also, towards the end of March we can expect ‘neòil dhubha na Càisge’ or ‘the dark clouds of Easter’ as the weather turns again before improving in April!