Monday, March 17, 2014

Before NCAA Basketball, Hares Invented March Madness

It's that time of year when basketball fans (and those who just enjoy a good office pool), start filling out their brackets for the NCAA Basketball March Madness playoffs.

But first we should pay homage to the original creators of this month's annual frenzy: Hares found in Europe. The first use of the expression "mad as a March hare" dates back to the 16th century.
But the descriptive phrase truly became part of the English lexicon when it appeared in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll, published in 1865.

The madness of hares (similar but not the same as U.S. cottontails) starts exhibiting itself in springtime, the beginning of the hare mating season; scientists in Scotland believe that the longer daylight hours and the availability of food occurring in March triggers some kind of hormonal switch in hares.

The animals will stand on their back feet and box each other or bowl headfirst into each other. They also exhibit other signs of rambunctiousness and unpredictable behavior.

In the United Kingdom, the BBC publishes a schedule of when and where observers might best be able to watch March hares going at it--and it doesn't require any filling out of brackets to be part of the fun.

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