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- "The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March." Alice, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis B. Carroll
"Mad as a March hare" is a common British English phrase, both now and in Carroll's time (and appears in John Heywood's collection of proverbs published in 1546). It refers to the hares' frantic behavior early in the animal's long breeding season from February to September in Britain.
From Alice in Wonderland chapter A Mad Tea-Party (excerpts):
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse1 was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over ist head. "Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse," thought Alice; "only as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind."
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. "No room! No room!" they cried out when they saw Alice coming. "There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
"Have some wine," the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. "I don't see any wine," she remarked.
"There isn't any," said the March Hare.
"Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it," said Alice angrily.
"It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited," said the March Hare.
..."Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least - at least I mean what I say - that's the same thing, you know."
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter.
"Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"
"You might just as well say," added the March Hare, "that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like'!"
"You might just as well say," added the Dormouse, which seemed to be talking in its sleep, "that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!"
"It is the same thing with you," said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.