Apr 1, 2010

April Fool!

 I was wondering about the origin of this goofy day and dug up some interesting facts...There are may ideas out there about just how April Fool's Day began, so I picked one of  those  explanations...

In 1582,Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar the "Gregorian Calendar" to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1.

According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture.

April Fools' Day is observed throughout the world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.

In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. The origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance.

Mexico's counterpart of April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod. It eventually evolved into a lighter commemoration involving pranks and trickery.

But keep in mind please, April Fools' practical jokes should be done in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The best jokes are the clever ones where everyone laughs, especially the person who had the joke played on them.


Jayne said...

Interesting article, Liz. I remember being very small and asked to look for a tin of 'elbow grease'. I think my dad found that quite amusing!

And in primary school (aged around 10) we stuck the clapper of the school bell down with blue tack so the teacher couldn't ring it for the end of breaktime. :)

Jacqueline said...

Your posts are always entertaining and enlightening...Your kind heart shows through in all your writing and I love that about you!...Have a happy day.

Lilac Wolf (Angie or Angela) said...

Thank you! I'm no good at pranks, but in the book I just read "The Year of the Flood" they talked about "April Fish" and I thought they were mistaken. Here you just showed me where it came from. Thanks! :D