Friday, April 1, 2005

April Fools Day

April Fool's Day. It has to be one of the strangest observances of the year -- pulling practical jokes on people for seemingly no reason. But what, really, is the reason? Why all the hassle and fuss, just for a cheap laugh that never turns out to be as funny as we expected?

Way back in the 16th century the New Year was a week long celebration that started on March 25th and ended on April 1st. Bear with me for a moment, and you'll see where this is going.

So March 25th, for some reason, was actually considered New Years Day. How a new year can possibly begin before a new month, I can't tell you. Go figure. Maybe that's why they changed it by adopting the Gregorian calendar, which changed New Years Day to January 1st. This was in France, originally, though it obviously took hold worldwide eventually.

But it seems in all the confusion that some people either weren't told, or didn't want to change, and they continued to observe New Years celebrations during the last week of March. Naturally, these people were thought to be a little crazy by the conformists in French society. With the New Years celebrations ending on April 1st, those who embraced the Gregorian calendar took to calling those who resisted it the "April Fools."

As the resisters started to change their way of thinking, it became more of just a fun way to remember the old New Years celebrations they used to have by pranking friends and loved ones. In France today, they refer to someone who falls for an April Fools gag as a Poisson d'Avril, literally meaning April Fish.

The British, being the latest society to adopt the Gregorian calendar more than 100 years after the French, actually get credit for bringing the tradition to America. The rest, my friend, is history.

Do you have any April Fools pranks planned this year? A good one from the past? Or maybe you were the butt of someone else's prank in the past.

Drop me a note and tell me about it.


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