APRIL 1 - April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is a day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, the jokes only last until noon: like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool". Elsewhere, such as in Ireland, Russia, France, and the U.S., the jokes last all day.
The origin of April Fools' Day is obscure. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar, which it replaced. In many pre-Christian cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signalled the start of the spring planting season. An April Fool may have been someone who did this prematurely. Another possible origin lies in the fact that when King Charles IX of France officially changed the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, some of his subjects continued using the old system. In the eighteenth century the festival was often posited as going back to the time of Noah. According to an English newspaper article published April 13, 1789, the day had its origin when Noah sent his dove off too early, before the waters had receded; he did this on the first day of the Hebrew month that corresponds with April. A possible reference to April Fools' Day can be seen in the Canterbury Tales (ca 1400) in the Nun's Priest's tale, a tale of two fools (Chanticleer and the fox), which took place on March 32.
Other prank days in the world
In the Babylonian and Assyrian Empires, the King would often be spanked by the High priest to remind him of how much of a fool he was in comparison to the gods.
Iranians play jokes on each other on the 13th day of the Persian new year (Norouz), which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day, celebrated as far back as 536 BC, is called Sizdah Bedar and is the oldest prank-tradition in the world still alive today; this fact has led many to believe that April Fools' Day has its origins in this tradition.
The April 1 tradition in France and French-speaking Canada includes poisson d'avril (literally "April's fish"), attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim's back without being noticed. This is also widespread in other nations, such as Italy (where the term Pesce d'aprile (literally "April's fish") is also used to refer to any jokes done during the day). In Spanish-speaking countries, similar pranks are practiced on December 28, día de los Santos Inocentes, the "Day of the Holy Innocents". This custom also exists in certain areas of Belgium, including the province of Antwerp. The Flemish tradition is for children to lock out their parents or teachers, only letting them in if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.
In Poland, prima aprilis ("April 1" in Latin) is a day full of jokes; various hoaxes are prepared by people, media (which sometimes cooperate to make the "information" more credible) and even public institutions. Serious activities are usually avoided. This conviction is so strong that the anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I signed on April 1, 1683, was backdated to March 31.
In Scotland, April Fools' Day is traditionally called Hunt-the-Gowk Day ("gowk" is Scots for a cuckoo or a foolish person), although this name has fallen into disuse. The traditional prank is to ask someone to deliver a sealed message requesting help of some sort. In fact, the message reads "Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile". The recipient, upon reading it, will explain he can only help if he first contacts another person, and sends the victim to this person with an identical message, with the same result. Also Scotland has 2 whole days for pranks, April 1 and April 2.
In Denmark the 1st of May is known as "Maj-kat", meaning "May-cat", and is identical to April Fools' Day, though Danes also celebrate April Fools' Day ("aprilsnar").
In Spain and Ibero-America, an equivalent date is December 28, Christian day of celebration of the Massacre of the Innocents. The Christian celebration is a holiday in its own right, a religious one, but the tradition of pranks not, though the latter is observed yearly. After somebody plays a joke or a prank on somebody else, the joker usually cries out: "Inocente palomita que te dejaste engañar" (You innocent dove that allowed to get yourself fooled), as a popular expression.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia