“Mad As A March Hare”

Having blogged last month about groundhogs and quirky associations to the month of February, my mind automatically turned to thoughts of the March Hare for this months post :-)

The phrase “Mad as a March hare” has been bumping around in my head for as long as I can remember, but I never took the time to wonder “WHY?”. What is a march hare, where did he originate from and why is he bonkers?

Turns out this turn of phrase has everything to do with the crazy behavior of British bunnies, the European hare to be exact. A long-held view is that the hare will behave strangely and excitedly throughout its breeding season, which in Europe begins in March. This odd behavior includes boxing at other hares, jumping vertically for seemingly no reason and generally displaying abnormal behavior. Early observations of the boxing hares was believed to be between males fighting for breeding supremacy, but was later proven to be the defensive moves of females fighting off advances of overzealous frisky suitors.

An early verbal record of this animal’s strange behavior occurred in about 1500, in the poem Blowbol’s Test where the original poet said:

“Thanne þey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare”
(Then they begin to swerve and to stare, And be as brainless as a March hare)

The March hare also has some association with our preferred time period of the 1800’s, as it was author Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, that truly coined the phrase and popularized (and there by immortalized) the saying with his character March Hare, whom most will recognize as the friend and tea party host of the Mad Hatter. The phrase “mad as a March Hare” was a popular saying of his time and in the early illustrations of Carroll’s book the March Hare wears straw around his head, a common way to depict madness in Victorian times. Lewis Carroll’s most famous writings,  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky“, are all examples of the genre of literary nonsense. He is noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy, and there are societies dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works. The March Hare is Atlantic Canada’s largest poetry festival. The March Hare initiated in the 1980’s and began as an evening of poetry and entertainment in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and has evolved into an annual island-wide celebration of words and music. The festival took its name from the character in Carroll’s book. The name is also intended as a pun on the words here, celebrating a sense of place, and hear, since its focus is the spoken word.

So there you have it, the saying “mad as a March hare” originates from the crazy antics of horny Euro bunnies, an English idiomatic phrase which inspired the brilliance behind a genre of literary nonsense! Or is this more proof that love is what really drives us ALL mad? ;-)

Wishing everyone a happy March!

m4s0n501

Written by Stacey Kayne

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25 Comments on ““Mad As A March Hare””

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  1. Cheryl Pierson says:

    STACEY! What an interesting post. I have heard that saying all my life too–my mom used to use it a lot. I never knew why March hares were “mad” either, but now it all becomes clear! LOL Makes perfect sense. I wonder if going through menopause qualifies for making one “mad as a March hare” too–sometimes I feel like that. LOL
    Great post!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl P.

  2. Victoria Bylin says:

    Fun post, Stacey! There must be rabbits in the air. I’m reading a contemporary inspy romance right now, and would you believe the heroine finds a rabbit on the side of the road? It’s not a March Hare, but the big ol’ bunny sure wreaks havoc. Thanks for the good start to my day!

  3. Margaret Brownley says:

    Stacey, what fun. I’ve heard that expression all my life but never knew what it meant. There are no mad hares around here but I have a couple of mad squirrels in my back yard.

  4. Stacey Kayne says:

    Thanks, Cheryl :-D Yeah, hormones and pheromones…natures gateway drug to madness, I’m pretty sure behavior studies would back that one up ;-)

  5. Stacey Kayne says:

    Thanks, Vicki! Too funny. March Bunny Madness must be abound ;-)

  6. Stacey Kayne says:

    LOL Margaret! I think squirrels are ALWAYS a tad nuts ;-) A friend of ours in bootcamp sent us a letter saying he was under attack by crazy raccoons *g* Perhaps I really should have researched March Madness *ggg*

  7. Patricia Barraclough says:

    Stacey, thank you for a delightful post. Spring is in the air and that put hormones and mating behavior at the fore. We all know how mad that can make all of us.

  8. Goldie Hale says:

    Interesting post. I have read your books and wondering when your next series will be out. I love your writing.

  9. Tanya Hanson says:

    Good one, Stacey. I knew the term but never knew its origin. Carroll also had the mad hatter..I never realized many of them did go mad because of mercury poisoning. Thanks for another cool “monthly” report.

  10. Stacey Kayne says:

    Oh so true, Patricia :)

  11. Stacey Kayne says:

    THANK YOU, Goldie! Thrilled to hear you’ve enjoyed my books. I am working on a new series…running way behind deadline, but I’m relying on that ol’ fable about The Tortoise and the Hare ;-) slow and steady will win the race??? Or, eventually produce a finished book or three at any rate :-D

  12. Stacey Kayne says:

    Thanks, Tanya! Yeah, Lots of truths in Carroll’s writing, the man was a genus and a brilliant mathematician. And awfully brave to be writing about a raving mad queen during his era, eh? Though, rumor has it the Queen was a fan :)

  13. catslady says:

    I enjoyed your post and especially the pics of the “boxing” bunnies lol. I care for ferals and strays so, alas, not to many rabbits are stupid enough to show up in my area.

  14. Stacey Kayne says:

    Eeek! I can see why that would keep the bunnies away, Catslady :) Though, that doesn’t work at our home on the range. We have a wild bunny who hangs out in our yard, but none of the cats bother it ;-) But then, we have strange kityycats. One sleeps with our dogs, another sleeps with the giant tortoise in our backyard–oddly, none of the other cats will have anything to do with the one who hangs with Bowser (tortoise), her scent must be off *g* They just gotta watch out for coyotes!

  15. Mary Connealy says:

    You are so handy, Stacey. Translating Chaucerian English. (or whatever that was)

    Men and women act a lot like this. Sad but true.

  16. Stacey Kayne says:

    LOL!! No arguments here, Mary! I have a house full of hormonal teenagers, that’s a double dose of madness…life is not dull ;-)

  17. Estella says:

    What an interesting and informative post,

  18. Tracy Garrett says:

    “the crazy antics of horny Euro bunnies”
    You left me laughing, Stacey!

  19. Stacey Kayne says:

    Thanks, Estella :)

  20. Stacey Kayne says:

    Oh, good, mission accomplished ;-) Thanks, Tracy!

  21. Pat Cochran says:

    Ah, yes! Spring is in the air! Tra la, Tra la!
    LOL! I think I’ve got a touch of March Madness!
    Oh, that’s basketball, isn’t it! No bunnies are
    around here, that we know of. I did see two
    squirrels chasing each other about the back yard last week. Very interesting blog subject today.
    BTW, with the house full of hormonal teenagers,
    we’ll keep you in our prayers. I do remember the
    days when we had three in their teens at the same
    time! Add in a fourth who thought she was a teen also and I get chills just thinking about it!!

    Pat Cochran

  22. Elizabeth Lane says:

    Delightful post, Stacey. No March hares in my backyard, but I have a lot of twitterpated birds (twitterpated…did that originate with the Bambi film, or is it a real word? Anybody know?)
    Anyway, thanks for a fun blog. Good luck with the hormonal teens. Been there as a mom.

  23. Stacey Kayne says:

    Hi Pat! Thank you for the prayers–I appreciate them :-D

  24. Stacey Kayne says:

    Thanks, Elizabeth! You know I had to look that up ;-) You are correct on both accounts!

    It’s actually in the urban dictionary and several online dictionaries *lol*

    Main Entry: twitterpated
    Part of Speech: adj
    Definition: confused by affection or infatuation
    Etymology: twitter + pated, i.e., having one’s pate (head) in a twitter (confused). First seen in the Disney movie Bambi.

    Too cool :-D Thanks, Elizabeth!!

  25. Kym McNabney says:

    Love, love, loved the pictures of the houses. My dream home.

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