Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Whoopie Cushion + Plastic Spiders = April Fool's Day

Ever wonder how April 1st became known as April Fool's Day? I guess i never gave it much thought, until recently. Looking up the history for Saint Patrick's day, then Easter, got me to wondering how did April Fools Day originate.

Now i always figured April Fools was more of a recent "holiday" if you will. I almost hate to call it a holiday, but i guess in odd ways we do celebrate it! lol If you call celebrating stringing plastic spiders in someone's closet, or slipping a whoopie cushion under someones chair.

It actually dates back to around 1582 in France and was originally called All Fool's Day with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from March 25 - April 1 (new year's week) to January 1. (who knew New Year's Day used to be in the spring??!)

But remember, there were no phones, or email, or faxes or anything back then so communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled "fools" by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on "fool errands," sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a "poisson d'avril" or "April fish" because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

These so called pranks evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continues on the first day of April. Eventually this tradition of sorts spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool's Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.

The origins of the "Kick Me" sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance.

In England, jokes are played only in the morning. Fools are called 'gobs' or 'gobby' and the victim of a joke is called a 'noodle.' It was considered bad luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon.

In Portugal, April Fool's Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends.

The Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31 in India. People play jokes on one another and smear colors on one another celebrating the arrival of Spring.

Of course leave it to Americans to turn this into more of a twisted day! I remember as a kid my brother and i always doing some kind of practical joke, if not on each other, definitly on our mom! Heck, my dad would even get in on it! Where else did you think i got the idea of stringing spiders in a closet from! lol

If anyone out there who reads this is from another country, i'd love to hear how you celebrate this odd kind of holiday.


ThePeachTree said...

Ah, nothing like twisted Americans :) Great post!!

JessicaLynn said...

Thank you for the comment. I will visit your blog again!

Jessica Lynn