Riddle: What does April 1st have to do with celebrating a new year?
I’m all for having fun, laughing until you’re silly, planning surprises that can take someone’s breath away. I think of all the goofball things that could make my college roommates and I shriek until we were rolling in tears – in our sleep-deprived lives, it didn’t take much!
And we still laugh and shiver over the time some of the boyfriends scared us silly, breathing oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhs at us like midnight ghouls through our apartment window — just at the moment we were watching the Twilight Zone’s eerie “Talking Tina” doll pull her murderous come-to-life “pranks”… And how one of us slipped out unnoticed to call the others in the midst of it, frightening us with an oh-too-real imitation of that sinister voice, “This is talking Tina… and I’m going to GET you…” (Did I mention we were sleep-deprived??? :))
Yet... there’s just something about April Fools’ Day that has never settled right with me. My earliest memories of celebrating the day are in grade school… a mixture of anticipation (because my teacher built it up as “Oh, aren’t we going to have FUN?!!) and DREAD (because… no matter how hard I tried to be worldly wise and sophisticated…it was more likely I’d be turning all shades of red for my gullibility).
And I can’t help thinking… Why do we want to put someone down for believing and trusting our words? What IS so funny about humiliating someone and watching them squirm? Something here smacks of “sticks and stones” and “words will never hurt me” that sends me today in search of where and when this slap-down merriment started.
Googling the origin of this celebration, here’s what I found:
- It is thought to have originated in France in the middle 1500’s.
- In 1564, King Charles IX of France adopted a new calendar initiating January 1st as New Years. Before then, people celebrated New Year’s on April 1st.
- Some people refused to change the day they celebrated the New Year and became the butt of jokes and tricks by friends and neighbors for doing so.
- These friends and neighbors sent mock gifts, invited these people to fake parties, and played tricks on them because they were “April Fools,” people who clung to their April New Year’s Day.
Hmm… just as I thought. Maybe it all depends on how you define fools... 🙂 Is it the perpetrator who is just jesting, or the one who trusted them, who plays the nut on this day?
What do you think? Do you have any fun or lighthearted memories of April Fools pranks that weren’t based on put downs? Or any April dunce times we can chuckle or commiserate together over? I’d love to hear about them…
On a completely different note… You may enjoy checking out the beautiful post on Holley Gerth’s blog today… Lovely words I can believe in…Now that makes me smile on this April 1st…