April Fools’ Day, and Related Holidays
April Fools’ Day, April 1
April Fools' Day has been called by many names throughout the centuries of its existence, All Fools’ Day, April Noddy Day, Gowkie Day, Huntigowk Day, and St. All-Fools’ Morn being just a few of these. Its names are almost as many and varied as the theories about its origin.
One such theory describes Noah as the first of the "April Fools," because he mistakenly sent the dove out to find dry land after the flood. Another theory points to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, when New Year’s Day was officially moved from March 25 to January 1. People who forgot about this change were mocked by their mates, as they went on making New Year visits after the old March date.
April Fools' Day pranks involve children, for instance, telling each other that their shoelaces are undone and then crying "April Fool!" when their mates look at their feet.
Sometimes the media also get involved broadcasting made-up news items to alarm or amuse the public. British television, for instance, once showed farmers from Italy "harvesting" spaghetti from trees.
The French call the day Fooling the April Fish Day and children try to pin a paper fish each other’s backs without getting caught in the act. Similar to April Fools' Day, Holy Innocents’ Day on December 28 serve as a good excuse for Mexican kids to play April Fools’-style pranks on their mates.
BBC: Spaghetti Harvest - 1st April 1957
A fool is a man who thinks he is wise
But a wise man is one who knows quite otherwise
And knows himself fully a fool
A fool is a man who to power aspires
But a wise man is one who has deeper desires
Though he thinks himself only a fool
A fool is a man who would fall for all lies
But a wise man is one who knows sorrow from false sighs
Even though he is only a fool
If Fool is a man, then Man is a fool
Though a wise man knows well he is merely a tool
So think what you will, but heed my advice -
Wise is to fool, as fool is to wise.
Holidays related to April Fools' Day
In one theory, the ancient Roman holiday of Cerealia is considered to have been the origin of modern April Fools' Day.
The Cerealia festival was observed in honor of Ceres, the ancient Roman goddess of grain and harvests. Legend has it that Ceres’s daughter Proserpine was dragged off to the underworld by Pluto. Ceres heard the echo of her crys and tried to follow her voice, but it was a fool’s errand, as it was impossible to pinpoint the source of the echo.
Holy Innocents’ Day or Allerkinderendag
Holy Innocents’ Day is the anniversary of the slaughter of Bethlehem’s male children by King Herod, in hopes that the infant Jesus would be among them.
Legend has it that, two of these murdered children were buried in the Convent of Saint Gerard in the province of Namur, Belgium. Thus many Belgian children today turn the tables on their parents on December 28 by locking them up having collected all the keys in the house early in the morning. They then demand a ransom, such as money, candy, toys, or fruit. The victims are called a "sugar uncle" or "sugar aunt."
More on April Fools' Day
Dossey, Donald E: Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatments and Superstitious Cures.
Los Angeles: Outcomes Unlimited Press, Inc., 1992.