Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools' Day

Today marks the first day of April; and traditionally, 1st of April is known as April Fools' Day.

April Fools' Day is internationally observed as a day of jokes, humor and pranks played on people. However, it is not a public holiday though; just a day dedicated to fun and tricks.

It may be a question as to how April 1st is the only day celebrated for jokes and not any other months in the year; but there is a long story behind the origins of April Fools' Day.

I have done a bit of research and reading on the history of how it all started and there were different opinions/findings on the whole theory of the beginning of the day itself.

1. The earliest citation was found in the Nun's Priest's Tales in Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer), which was written in the 12th century (1392).
There was a line which caused a disambiguation; and contemporary scholars believed it to be a copying error in the manuscript which misled readers to believe 'Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two' was actually 'Syn March was gon'.

The disambiguation lies in the belief that the author; Geoffrey Chaucer actually referred to 32 days after March and not on the 32nd of March as originally appeared in the text.

Please refer to Wikipedia for more explanation.

2. The early civilians used to celebrate and usher in the New Year between the mid of March until early April; or usually on the first day of April as it was the period which coincided with the occurrence of the vernal equinox.
March 25, or also known as the Feast of Annunciation was celebrated by the Romans or the Europeans during the medieval times too.

The emergence of the new Gregorian calendar (enforced by Pope Gregory XII in 1582) as the replacement of the old Julian calendar commemmorates January 1st as the commencing of a brand new year.

January marks the beginning the year in the Julian Calendar; and the first day in this first month naturally became New Year's Day in that context.

This event thus shifted the celebration of New Year's Day from March/April to the 1st of January and the shift, caused a confusion among the folks who chose to observe the new New Year's Day and those who are still following the old New Year.

Those observing January 1st then buffed and made fun of the conservatives; thus giving birth to April Fools' Day on April 1st.

3. Joseph Boskin, a history professor at the Boston University provided his own theory/perceptions on the origins of this celebration; associating it with the court jesters who made a proposal to the emperor during the reign of Constantine period.
They proposed to be able to rule the country better than the ruler; and Constantine, agreed to allow the jester, Kugel to rule the country for a day.

The day was since then observed as a day of insanity/absurdity; an edict by the same jester and there is no doubt that it was the first of April.

The April Fools' Day is widely celebrated mostly in the Western countries, and there is no wonder, looking back at the history and theories of its origin.
However, the popularity of the pranks, humor and jokes played on this particular day had quickly spread to the rest of the world and almost everyone is celebrating this day by playing pranks and tricks on people around them.

There are also countries which only allow jokes to be circulated or pranks played until noon and anyone still fooling others after noon are branded as the April Fool. These countries are UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and perhaps they just want to spare their citizens from being fooled for another half of the day? :)
The rest of the world, however, observes the whole of April 1st to play pranks on anyone.

It is also interesting to note that there are bigger jokes played in some of the countries; which included the mass media reporting fascinating news (which were untrue) but enough to cause a stir among the public.
For instance, the Tower of Pisa had collapsed! (yup, it's an April Fools' Joke played on the public by the Dutch television - that can be so convincing huh!)

Perhaps it is a fortunate thing that my country do not scare the public like that too :)

In case you are wondering, this is a real post on April Fools' Day and I am not joking about the resources I have found on the origins of this day.

Hope you have fun today, and HAPPY APRIL FOOLS' DAY!~

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