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01.04.2003 Feature Article

Origion of April Fools Day

By Press
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Many anthropologists say April Fools' Day is a French tradition dating back to the 16th century, putting the day practical jokers run amok alongside berets, bidets and croissants as a French cultural contribution. April Fools' history remains a bit murky. Ancient Romans, among others, may have played a hand in institutionalizing a holiday when open season is declared on the gullible. But there's no denying France's role in the highly questionable practice of honoring put-ons and lame jokes. The implications of this reckless behavior is clear: If anyone's ever hung a "Kick Me" sign on your posterior or spiked your sugar bowl with salt, Paris is ultimately responsible — and they should pay. If the US Congress deems it worthy to rechristen "French"-named food in their cafeteria, taking on the French for lame April Fools' Day jokes is even more reasonable. It's time for lawmakers to act, quickly and decisively, just as they did in taking the French out of their toast and fries. Do Americans need to strip April Fools' Day from our calendars? History’s Fishy Gift The French connection to April Fools' Day is no joke. It all started in 1564, when King Charles IX of France adopted the Gregorian calendar, thereby switching the New Year's Day to Jan. 1.
Up until then, Europe used the Julian calendar and held New Year's celebrations around the spring equinox, on dates ranging from March 21 to April 1.
But news of King Charles' edict spread rather slowly — especially in small towns. And, as always, the French held tight to their old traditions and defiantly celebrated New Year's on the old date.
The result: calendar chaos. Suddenly, that old excuse, "I'll pay you next year," took on even less significance.
Parisians grew frustrated and mocked these backward bumpkins as Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish". This led to expressions of sarcasm, then gag gifts, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It's still a favorite prank among French kids is to tape a paper fish to the backside of an unsuspecting rube. Fooliganism Spreads to America

Press
Press, © 2003

The author has 117 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: Press

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