March and the first full moon

By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo


THE term “Ides” refers to the first full moon of a given month, normally occurring between the 13th and 15th. At some point in time, Ides “signified the new year, which meant celebrations and rejoicing”.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the month of March is the Ides of March, which my memory associates with the assassination of Julius Caesar that took place in Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar”. In this play, Caesar was given a warning, that he will be assassinated on March 15. The current use of the term, Ides of March, evolved to mean a bad omen, and totally negated its original context of celebrations and rejoicing. It is often used as a warning, “beware the ides of March!”

Its original context of celebrations and rejoicing had slowly been reclaimed, not only on the first full moon of March, but the whole month of March, to celebrate National Women’s History Month in the United States where, after a strong lobby from the National Women’s History Alliance, Congress declared March 1987 as such. In the Philippines, March of every year is declared as National Women’s Month and focuses its the celebration on the themes as propounded by the UN Women or as laid down by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in consultation with the various government agencies and civil society groups.

A move to make an international day for women was made by Clara Zetkin during the 1910 International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, where 100 women from 17 countries attended, supporting her suggestion unanimously. The International Women’s Day was henceforth celebrated annually, but had no fixed date. In 1917, Russian women went on a four-day strike that forced the abdication of the Tsar. The provisional government granted women the right to vote. “After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted by the feminist movement in about 1967.”

The International Women’s Day was declared by the United Nations during the International Women’s Year, 1975. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. Henceforth, the commemoration of International Women’s Day today ranges from being a public holiday, a day of protest, a day to celebrate womanhood or a day to push for policies and programs in pursuit of women empowerment and betterment of society. In other countries, the commemoration is totally ignored.

Recognizing the profound impact of the pandemic to health and other equally important aspects of human life, where women are at the heart of care and response, the theme for the International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.  

The role of women at this time is much appreciated as they constitute the larger percentage of health care professionals and caregivers, community volunteers, scientists and researchers, and most importantly, the main source of care in homes.

Let March be the beginning of recovery and celebration, on the occasion of its first full moon (March 28).

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