Resident fountain of knowledge and copywriter Paul settles a debate over the saying: “If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb.”
Last night my girlfriend and I had an argument. I said the old saying is March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. She says that isn’t a real thing. Can you clear this up for us? Is that the old saying about March and if so, where does it come from and, are there any more weather-related sayings about the other months?
Dear Calendar Boy,
Let me start by saying that is a deeply weird thing to be having an argument with your girlfriend about. Did you get tired of the toilet seat fight?
Secondly, you are right. You win. There is an old saying about March that goes like this:
“If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb.”
Like most weather-related sayings this one is based in the agrarian culture which was most heeded back in the day. The day being way long ago. Like back when social media was a fence you leaned on to chat up your neighbor. The saying has no basis in scientific or meteorological fact, it’s simply an observation made by farmers that held to be somewhat true. However, it is based only on observation and, really, a lot of hope.
Back in the old times, the 19th century, there was the belief that spirits, evil and good, were running the show and that if you intoned a thought or hope, the spirits would take it and make it a fact. Thus a lot of these weather-related sayings rhyme, making them earworms for the spirits to hum and then turn into truth. So, if the weather in March started out stormy and horrible, like a lion, these hopeful farmers would send the idea that March would go out like a lamb.
There’s also the notion that the saying is based on the stars. At this time of year, Leo is the rising sign; by April, it’s Aries. The substitution of “lamb” for “kid” is purely for aural appeal.
Some have pointed out that Jesus arrives as the sacrificial lamb but will return as the Lion of Judah. Which, weather-wise, means a false spring.
March seems to have a lion’s share (see what I did there) of weather-related sayings for instance:
- A dry March and a wet May? Fill the barn and bays with corn and hay
- March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers
- So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be
As for the other months, sure, there are coming and going weather-related sayings for all the months. Most are very obscure and some border on the horrific and insane. Here are a few to use to impress friends and family at parties, funerals or surprise autopsies.
If the first of January bringeth ice and whipping snow, ‘tis a sign the rest of the month will surely blow.
In this month of fewest days, who giveth a rat’s puckered ass about the weather anyways.
April cometh like a cheeky, flirtatious maid and goeth like a festering pustule that requires a physic’s aid.
May’s rough winds can maketh the gentle buds wither, like unto the wind from Uncle Gerd after he consumeth a ninety-nine bean dinner.
If early June hath rain which gently falls, bet thou the farm the rest of the month shall be hot as balls.
If the sweat doth poureth, the wheat be scorched and the land quite dry, what dost thou expect, it’s friggin’ July.
If the month starteth with hot winds like the fiery breath of hell, the end of the month shall be devilish as well. I mean, seriously, it’s August, didst thou expect it to be different? Hast it ever been different? Like, even once? No. So, it’s August, it’s hot. Get thyself over it.
If the days be mild and the nights have shed their chill, so the rest of the month will. Unless we displeaseth the Lord then frogs and crickets will fall by the horde. Our fields and faces shall be eaten clean and thence cometh horror as we have yet seen. Our firstborn three-headed shall be and blood will clot both river and sea. Good luck sewing all but pain, for crops will cease from lack of rain. The meat of cattle the wolves will tear and steal and no grain will be seen at the miller’s wheel. Hope shall die in a bloody heap and our souls with scythes the Angel of Darkness will reap. But, hey, the days will be mild and the nights lacking chill so, taketh what thou canst get if thou will.
If the moon be veiled with cloud or haze the month will be lacking better days. How ’ere if shines the moon clear and white the coming days will be alright. Mind you, we sayeth all right, not great, just how good be up for debate. For, know you, the nights could be bitter as a mother-in-law’s tongue and the days could make cheese fester from the broiling sun. There might be wind and most likely rain and morning fog will lock thy joints with pain. The nights may fall like curtains of lead making thee long for the time thou art dead. The fields may lay fallow and lacking wheat and thou couldst be forced to chew the cobbler’s leather in place of meat. But, have a cheer, if the moon lacketh a veil then moderately decent days will prevail. Which, when thou give’st it a thought, with all this plague and pestilence, all right is actually quite a lot.
When winnowing or threshing hath divorced the seed from chaff, the days feel short and the night windows betray a cold draft. Now the skies grow darker and roil like sin, the time is nigh to bring the yield quickly in. The winds shall bluster and clutch at your coat and ice sharp as razors shall slash and pierce thy face and throat. Now you long for the wasted days of summer as your children freeze and die one after another. The earth, frozen solid like hardest granite, will not let you bury your children in it. Now in barn and bay, their tiny corpses reside where corn once did lay. The freezing nights shall preserve their tiny souls til winter ends and you can dump them into tholes. Best to wrap thy body at night in wool and down and procreate like rabbits, seriously, thou shouldst grab thy mate and just get thee down. The long cold nights are best to replace the souls you’ve lost, they’ll soon work the fields and cut your costs. Hang tough and pray with all thy might in November you could up and die almost any night. There be no cheery tune here about weather and luck, prepare thyself, the whole month doth suck.
If December be filled with holiday cheer, better weather is certainly near. If thou findest the merriment slender, best to just lay it all aside and go on a bender.
There you are, wisdom on weather from days gone by. Some of it is, as I said, just horrific and none of it is really useful. Maybe you can ponder some of the horrors of the past and you and your girlfriend will realize that fighting about the lion and lamb of March is just silly. Much better to argue about the fact that she’s cheating on you. I hope this helps.