Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy April Fools' Day!

April Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools' Day, is one of the most light hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.
Ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.
The soul of April Fool's Day lies in the funny pranks that are played on that day. The real good prank is the one that makes the victim laugh and enjoy as much as the other people who witness it. It's not nice to harm someone while pranking people and keep it safe.

In Spain we celebrate the Day of the Innocents on December 28th. It observes the day when, according to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, King Herod ordered the baby boys under 2 years old in Bethlehem to be killed because he was afraid that the baby Jesus born there would become a rival. As it turned out, though, the baby Jesus had been taken away to Egypt by Mary and Joseph. So the "joke" was on Herod, and thus followed the tradition of tricking friends on that day.

It is Easter in Spain today, and it makes it even odder to think of pulling someone's leg, but just take April Fools' Day into account in case you receive an incredible e-mail from an English friend...

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