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April Fool’s Day April 1, 2010

Posted by Megan in Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.

As I think about this post, it occurs to me that the month of April gets off to quite a shaky start. Think about it. If you aren’t careful on the very first day of this month you run the risk of falling victim to a prank. Who wants to spend an entire day looking over one’s shoulder? And who among us can forget that April is when good old Uncle Sam comes a-knocking? No one likes tax time. Finally, while March may indeed have gone out like a lamb, we all know that April showers bring May flowers. Dig out those umbrellas because April is a wet month. So, poor April seems to be stuck with some rather unpleasant events (unless of course you are a successful prankster and not a victim, in which case April 1st is probably a lot of fun for you.)

All kidding aside, I decided that I needed to learn more about this “holiday” of pranks. The history of April Fool’s Day is uncertain, but many historians believe it originated in France around 1582 when Charles IX introduced the Gregorian calendar. Under the old calendar the new year began in April, but the Gregorian calendar made New Year’s Day January 1st. News travelled pretty slowly in the 16th century so many people were unaware of this change for years! As news spread, those still celebrating the new year in April were labelled “fools” and found themselves to be the butt of many jokes and pranks. Eventually the tradition spread around the world and to this day people all over the world play pranks on April 1st. That’s just a theory and not everyone agrees. To read about another theory check out this article by National Geographic. Time to move on the good stuff-classic pranks. The Museum of Hoaxes has assembled the top 100 pranks ever played here in one convenient place (or you could check out the book from your favorite library: The museum of hoaxes : a collection of pranks, stunts, deceptions, and other wonderful stories contrived for the public from the Middle Ages to the new millennium by Alex Boese).

If you happen to stop in you may also like to get a book of jokes. I recommend the updated and revised edition of The Friars Club encyclopedia of jokes : over 2,000 one-liners, straight lines, stories, gags, roasts, ribs, and put-downs.

There you have it folks, forewarned is forearmed. It’s April Fool’s Day and the joke could be on you! And all you merry pranksters, keep in mind that pranks should be clever, not harmful. Let us not forget the wise words of generations of moms and grandmothers: it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.




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