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Articles - April Fools

April Fools, also known as April Fool's day, singular or plural sort of thing, originates to 1564, either in France under Charles IX or in Rome under pope Gregory XIII (sound like horror movies don't they?).

Whatever the specific date, there is no doubt as to the origins of the April Fools or April Fool's tradition of pulling funny jokes and pranks on people. In 1582, someone decided to change the calendar to a Gregorian calendar --you chances are the pope did it-- and New Year's Day was moved From April 1st to January 1st. Of course, not everybody agreed with that and those who did not continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1st.

Because society was basically a sheepdom even then, those who followed the new rules and celebrated New Year's on January 1st, i.e. the majority, started making fun of those who were sticking to the old tradition.

They did not have the same kind of right-wing fundamentalists back then so the worse the traditionalists got was being called April Fools or having funny jokes or pranks pulled on them that involved having them believe in some cockamamie story of some kind.

If these April Fools believed New Year's Day was April first, what else would they believe.

The acceptance of January 1st as the official New Year's Day travelled slowly throughout Europe --everything travelled slowly in Europe, so that it is only in 1752 that Britain changed the date while for Scotland it was 1660, and 1700 for Germany, Denmark and other places.

What is interesting is that the tradition of pulling pranks or funny jokes on people travelled with the date change as well.

Most bizarre is that Mexico's April Fools or April Fool's Day is December 28, has nothing to do with a calendar change, but the idea is the same: of pulling funny pranks on people and making people the butt of your funny jokes.

April Fools or April Fool's is probably the only somewhat marked event in the year that Hallmark has not overexploited and that various business have not pigged out on.

Of course, there are endless supplies of whoopee cushions, dribble glasses, fake gum and soap and so on available to your average prankster but you rarely if ever see an April Fools Sale (unless you include used-car commercials and, well, it's a subtle reference).

What is interesting for the only non-Hallmark exploited day of the year is that serious news stations and newspapers will sometimes let their hair down or their combover under and plant a fake, hope you do not believe this, story in the papers or on tv.

The best source however to hear a good April Fool's prank or practical joke is usually the morning drive radio show where the hosts usually call some unsuspecting moron (in Canada some radio guy once called the Queen and actually got to talk to her) and ask him some bizarre questions about the discovery of little green men on the moon.

One story that made the rounds many years ago was a radio host who called the Better Business Bureau to get their opinion on whether moon cheese should be nationalised or not. Go figure. Barnum or Baily once said "There's a sucker born every minute!" and that sucker's birth date is invariably April Fools or April Fool's Day.

So, next time one of your "friends" or someone calls you for a "telephone survey", check the date on the calendar.

After all you would not want to be the April fool and give your opinion on whether or not schools should only teach abstinence to their students.



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