Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools Day

Going through the day, I was reminded of what today was. I couldn't believe that I had forgot April Fools Day.  I loved this day when I was a teenager living at home with my parents. The pranks that I pulled on them all day and they did on me as well. It was a fun day around the house.
     I began to think to myself, " Where did this day come from? "  " What is the history of April Fools Day?"
     The origin of the day is a mystery but there are stories of it origin. Some are believed to be true but the facts are scattered on the true origin of this prankster's holy day.
     The Romans and the Hindus celebrated their New Years Day on April 1st. The Romans celebrated it with a whole week beginning with March 25th and ending with April 1st. The cause is thought to be because it's so closed to the vernal equinox being March 20th or 21st and what a great time to celebrate a new year with the beginning of spring when the earth is bursting forth with life.
     In 1582, Pope Gregory VII ordered that the Gregorian calendar to be followed thus replacing the Julian calendar which moved the New Years Day from April 1st to the first of January. France adopted the reformed calendar but of course they would. It was ordered by the Pope himself.
     Back then communication wasn't as easy as it is in today's time so not many people knew there was an adoption of a new calendar so many still followed the old one. Some people knew but still refused to follow it. They continued to celebrate New Years Day on April the 1st.  These people became known as 'fools'. The 'fools' started to be tricked and prank. Some would be sent on foolish errands while others would be lead to believe something foolish.
     Eventually it spread through out Europe.  Now some people believe this story has some flaws in it because the Gregorian calendar wasn't adopted in England until 1752 and April's Food Day was already established. Still this story of origin is mostly accepted.
     Another explanation was given by a college history professor name Joseph Boskin. He stated that Constantine allowed a court jester of his to rule the empire for one day. He had over heard a group of jesters jokingly saying that they could do a better job at running the empire so Constantine made a jester name Kugel the king for the day. During his short reign Kugel passed a ruling that absurdity was allowed on that particular day and the custom became an annual event.  The Associated Press picked up Joseph's explanation and printed it in the paper in 1983 but this was a practical joke played by the college professor.
     Back to the first story of origin. People believe that the idea of April Fools Day spread and traveled to England and Scotland in the 18th century.
     Scotland celebrated the idea with two days instead of one. The first day was called Hunt-the-Gowk day. The word Gowk is Scottish for a cuckoo or a foolish person. A person was sent out with a message in a sealed envelope. He or she had to run it to someone else then inside the envelope was a message and instructions on sending it further along. Kind-of like a chain letter. The 2nd day was known as Taily Day. This day dealt with pranks and jokes by kicking or hitting someone in the butt. This is where the origin of taping a sign which read "Kick Me" on some one's back. 
     In France they would place a sign on your back but it wouldn't be a "Kick Me" sign. It was a sign of a fish and the day was known as April Fish Day.
     Mexico's April Fools Day was observed on December the 28th. Originally it was a very sad day with sad traditions because this is when they would commemorate the slaughter of the innocence by King Herod. So in celebration the people started playing tricks and pranks as a child would then the day transformed into a day of childish play and laughter.
     Iranians celebrate a type of April Fools Day on the 13th day of the Persian new year, Norouz and it fell on April 1st or 2nd. It was celebrate as far back as 536 BC. It was called Sizdah Bedar. Today it is thought to be the oldest prank day tradition. It was a day of playing, picnics, games and innocent fun. At the end of the festivals they would take all green vegetables and throw them away for they represented any potential illnesses and bad luck for the new year.
     Even Korea got in on the day. Under the dynasty of the Joseon, the royal family and courtiers were allowed to lie and fool each other.  It was only allowed on the first day of snow of the year. When you were tricked the victim would receive a bowl full of snow.
     In India the Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31st. This was a day that people would play jokes on one another celebrating the arrival of spring.
     In England jokes were only played in the morning. The fools were known as 'gobs' or being 'gobby' and the victims of the jokes and pranks were known as 'noodle'.  If a joke or prank was played after noon is was considered bad luck.
     Roman Laughing Day was a festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, on March 25th and yes it was known as Roman Laughing Day.
     Another April Fools Day type of tradition consist of throwing flour at each other was celebrated in Portugal. Their April Fools Day was celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before lent. 
     No matter the culture or the country everyone loves a good joke. That would make sense because there was a trickster in every ancient tradition and mythology.  Sometimes the trickster taught us many lessons that we need to learn and the most important one is... laughter is the best medicine.

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