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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hey, Your Shoe's Untied!

Gotcha! What other day in the calendar year can boast of the phenomena of spaghetti trees, the felling of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and left-handed burgers? Only April Fool's Day can claim such outrageousness. Everyone enjoys the novelty of being able to play pranks on friends and strangers alike, but have you ever wondered where this license to joke freely originated? It seems that the beginnings of this pseudo-holiday are as obscure as the day itself is wacky.
  • Some people believe that April Fool's Day is a derivative of ancient festivals which marked the spring equinox. These were still celebrated in medieval Europe and were a way to act out the unpredictability of Spring weather. People would themselves become unpredictable by playing tricks on their neighbors.
  • Another possible theory involves the year 1582, the date Pope Gregory XIII decided to switch the calendar being used from the Julian one to a calendar that was more to his liking (the Gregorian one.) New Year's Day was effectively moved from April 1st on the Julian calendar to January 1st on the Gregorian calendar. Needless to say, not everyone adhered to this change. Many people continued to celebrate New Year's on April Fool's, thus earning the contempt, and practical joking, of their more forward thinking neighbors.

Whatever its roots, I think a day that can inspire worldwide mirth is something to be admired!

"April Fool’s Day" Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained. London: Chambers Harrap, 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2009
"April Fool's Day" A Dictionary of English Folklore. Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 1 April 2009

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