The Ides of March corresponds to March 15 according to the Roman calendar. In Latin it is called “Idus Martiae” and “Idus Martii.” Various observances of religious nature were associated with the date. It also corresponds to the fateful day in 44 BCE when Julius Caesar fatally suffered from the traitorous hands of his friend, Marcus Junius Brutus and his brother-in-law Gaius Cassius Longinus. It was the day Julius Caesar, uttered his famous last words, “Et tu Brute?”
First month of the year
In the Roman calendar, March is the first month of the year and this is when the new year was celebrated in Ancient Rome. The manner in which the holidays were observed during this month reflected the celebrations reserved for the start of the coming year.
The months at that time were not numbered but rather depended on fixed points, where the 5th and 7th days were called Nones, the 13th or the 15th of the month were the Ides and the first of the succeeding month was called Kalends. The Ides were specifically defined when the full moon occurred, and the Ides of March was the most notable because this was the first full moon of the Roman new year.
The Ides, which was celebrated each month, was related to the supreme god of the Romans, Jupiter. His high priest, Flamen Dialis used to lead the procession along the sacred main street of Rome at that time (Via Sacra) for the sacrificial offering of the Ides sheep at the Arx, ancient Rome’s citadel. It coincided with the celebration for the Feast of Anna Perenna, Roman deity of the “circle of the year,” from whom the term “per annum” came. Revelry, picnics and drinking were part of the celebration for the Ides. During the Imperial period in Ancient Rome, the Ides became a commemoration of the demise and rebirth of Attis, the consort of Cybele, who was discovered among the reeds as an infant. His demise and resurrection were associated with the growing cycle of products from the earth. The rebirth of Attis was associated with the vernal equinox, which on the Julian calendar occurred on March 25.
In Canada, the Ides of March is toasted with cocktails called Bloody Caesar. Soothsayers believed it to be a day of doom, correlated to what happened in 44 BCE to Julius Caesar, an event that inspired William Shakespeare to write the play, Julius Caesar. It also spawned the Hollywood film, The Ides of March, which was directed by George Clooney in 2011. For most wine lovers, it is the eve of the day of Bacchus, characterized by imbibing large quantities of wine. For the cultured, it is the time for a round of wine tasting.