Monday, 14 March 2016

March - the earth month

I can't believe it's March already! But it is, so let's look at the name maaliskuu - March in Finnish.

The word maalis actually comes from the word maa, which means "earth" or "ground". But why on earth (haha) would March be known as the earth month? The explanation is quite simple: in March, we may be able to witness the first signs of spring: snows begin to melt and small patches of earth are revealed between banks of snow. So here is yet another month name that is related to weather or a natural phenomenon.

There are, however, alternative explanations. According to one of them, maalis comes from the word mahla, "birch sap". People actually used to refer to one of the months as a mahlakuu, but as far as I know, it was May, not March... while in Estonian (a close relative of the Finnish language), mahlakuu used to be April. That makes sense, seeing that April is when people usually start to collect birch sap. Another theory links the word maalis with maali, "target" - according to this hypothesis, March was a good time to ski and shoot at targets.

Rather than go out with my bow and arrows, I just walked around and took this picture to go with the first explanation:

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