I’m just waiting for Madison Avenue to latch onto the April Fool’s Day holiday to pull in more of our hard earned money. So far, we’re not expected to purchase trinkets, flowers, or candy to celebrate. There is no tradition of April Fool’s fancy dining dates. Schools and businesses remain open as usual. But it is a fun, unofficial holiday.
Other holidays commemorate some sort of historical person, event or other major annual occurance. There is no Saint April to salute, nor were any American states admitted to the union on April first. It is, however, Fossil Fools Day and Edible Book Day. There’s a traditional dance celebration in Kyoto, Japan called “Miyako Odori”, today. The Assyrian New Year celebration, Kha b-Nisan, happens on this date.
That New Year’s holiday is the nearest explanation as to why we celebrate practical jokes and tom-foolery today. The most probable reason for All Fool’s Day is that the New Year used to be celebrated on April 1st according to the Julian calendar. The new year actually began on March 25th, but that day fell during the Christian holy week.
So, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted with it’s January 1st New Year’s Day, the celebrations also changed. If someone was not aware of the new calendar or was uncertain about New Year’s Day, they might be able to be fooled into celebrating New Year’s Day on the traditional date. To make the joke more believable, some people paid neighborly visits to friends and neighbors to celebrate the holiday.
There is a common superstition about All Fool’s Day in that the window of opportunity for jokes and pranks, ends at noon. Any foolishness afterwards will bring bad luck to the joker. Another superstition claims that the target of any joke or prank must respond with a laugh or smile. If not, they will attract bad luck to themselves. When the prank is played out, the joker must say, “April Fool”.
One of the more clever April Fools jokes went over on April 1, 1996, when Canadian Member of Parliament Sheila Copps announced on television that the Ottawa Peace Tower clock was to be converted to a digital model.
I like to remember Mark Twain quotes on April Fool’s Day. “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.” For a touch of self-deprecation there’s this one from Twain, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”
The Blue Jay of Happiness says that your April Foolery should be believable, as well as clever. You need to totally draw your victim into the prank before you say “April Fool”. Be safe, make sure your potential victim has a good sense of humor so you don’t get hurt as payback.