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April Fools’ Day
Happy April Fools’ Day!
The day, also known as All Fools’ Day, is not a real holiday – just in case anybody is trying to wrangle an extra paid day from their employer. April Fools’ Day is known for practical jokes and silly pranks, trying to get someone to believe something is true that is obviously not, or sending someone on a fool’s errand – searching for items, which do not exist. In some places, it’s a day for pointing out the idiocy or foolishness of certain folks or their behavior.
The origins of April Fools’ Day are not known but there are an abundance of theories, none of which seem to make any sense. That in itself is rather fitting in my opinion. I’ve read many accounts on how the day came into practice. Some seem logical, others are obviously pure fiction. Still others are downright ridiculous; stories so preposterous that only a fool would believe them. Fanciful bets with emperors and kings, a mistaken date of March 32, and spring weather fooling with people are just the beginning. Somehow these seem à propos to the day.
The generally accepted explanation is; that the celebration April Fools’ Day can be traced back to the 1500’s in France. Prior to 1582, the New Year was observed on April 1. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar moved the date to January 1. This ruined the weeklong New Year’s festival, which began on March 25 and ended April 1. Some people refused to go along with the change and were ridiculed by the rest of society for stubbornly clinging to tradition. Sounds good, except the theory doesn’t account for the fact that the day was already widely celebrated before the 1500’s in other parts of Europe and the rest of the world. For example, the ancient Romans had a festival called Hilaria, on March 25. The Persians also had a day of pranking, celebrated on April 1, dating back to 536 B.C . Other ancient societies, including the Jewish and the Greek cultures, had similiar celebrations all on or around April 1. So, to accept the traditional version of the origins of April Fools’ Day would be – well, foolish.
Since there are no definitive explanations for how the day came about, I think I’m free to join in the speculation. Could it be that throughout history there have always been those who were a little less than well-endowed with intelligence? Have people always done things that weren’t too smart? Apparently so. And not just a few. Enough of them that many cultures, dating back to the begining of their existence, set aside a day just for these people. And of course there have always been those who took the opportunity to identify those people – and by extension to prove they themselves were not part of that group.
My theory seems to make as much sense as any other, I believe. It’s reasonable and plausible. Now if I could just figure out whether or not to take offense when someone tells me Happy April Fools’ Day.