As a child, I remember my father playing some small joke on my mother during April Fool’s Day, the first day of April. It was always silly, something that amused them both, and they would share a laugh together afterwards, which I found endearing.
But where did this tradition originate? Apparently, no one knows for certain. However, here’s the most popular theory: In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing a new standard calendar for Christian Europe. Before that time
Europe’s nations and city states used the Julian calendar. The Gregorian
calendar moved the date of the new year from April 1 to January 1. In the
Middle Ages, Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th,
was considered the first day of the new year. Some Europeans continued to
celebrate the new year on March 25th through April 1st. April fools
were those who still celebrated the holiday then, and were the subject of
pranks or ridicule by those who now observed the new year several months before.
Popular since the 19th
century, the day is well known in , Canada Europe, , Australia and the Brazil as a day when people play practical
jokes on others. United States
Foolish behavior isn’t related to just one day, of course. It often shows up in literature and music for instance. As Shakespeare writes in A Midsummer Nights Dream: “Lord, what fools these mortals be.” And to quote a question posed by a popular 20th century song title: Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
People in love often do behave foolishly or recklessly and that is a common theme in literature. Human beings are flawed and imperfect. Behaving foolishly is just one manifestation of this. It can be humorous or tragic. In my mystery novel THE BAD WIFE, for example, police lieutenant Mike Gardener uses poor judgment in declaring publicly to Kim Reynolds, the reluctant sleuth of the series, that he might have to kill his wife so they can be married. When he confides what he’s done to fellow officer and friend, Bert St. Croix, she berates his foolishness as has Kim. Thus begins a mystery thriller with many twists and surprises.
Have you ever pulled a prank on someone? Was it on April Fool’s Day? Does foolish behavior on the part of anyone either in real life or in fiction annoy or amuse you? Comments welcome.