April Fools’ Day is day celebrated in almost all western cultures.  It is a day that people play pranks on each other, all in good fun, and when the prank is discovered the prankster yells out APRIL FOOLS!  It’s a fun day that from time to time may get out of hand but all in all a good time can be had by everyone.
The history of April Fools’ Day is bit obscure.  The following is what we do know.
In The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer there is a line the story of Nun’s Priest’s Tale that seems to mention the 32nd of March which would mean April 1st.  Modern scholars do not believe Chaucer was referring to April 1st at all but to 32 days after the end of March which would be May the 2nd.  This is the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia which took place in 1381.  Some believe that this is the origin of April Fools day but there is another theory which bears looking at.
Ancient cultures celebrated New Years Day on or around April 1st.  This would have included the ancient Roman Empire as well as the early Christian Church.  In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII ordered a New Calendar this is known as The Gregorian Calendar which changed New Years Day to January 1st.  This makes our New Years celebration less than 500 years old.  It is speculated that many people refused to change the New Years celebration or simply didn’t learn about it and so continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1st.  Those that knew of the change would play pranks on the uninitiated and send them on fool’s errands.  From this the holiday slowly emerged.
A third possible explanation for the day is proposed by Professor Joseph Boskin a History Prof at Boston University.  Boskin believes that the practice began during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine.  It seems there were a group of court Jesters that told the Emperor that they could run the kingdom better than he could.  Constantine could have had them all executed for their brashness but instead he was amused and ordered that one of them, a man named Kugel, to be King for one day.  Kugel ordered that his day of reigning as monarch become a day of absurdity and the event became an annual custom.
Almost every country in Western Civilization has designated April 1st as a day of pranks.  England, France, Ireland, Spain and the Nordic countries all recognize April First as a day of fun.
France has a tradition of hanging pictures of fish on people backs and yelling Poisson D’Avril!  Meaning April Fish!  This comparable to the American tradition of hanging a sign on someone’s back that say “Kick Me.”
Pranks on April Fools’ Day can be as elaborate or a simple as one’s imagination can come up with.  You can balance a plastic bucket of water over top of a door and wait for the next person to come in. A single woman might scare her boy friend by announcing to him that she is pregnant.  A child might falsify a test grade to be failing and when mom or dad get upset yell “April Fool” and deliver the actual high mark test.
There is music that goes with this holiday.  No one has recorded the song in recent years but it was known in the 1960s.  Here are the lyrics;
YOUR HAIR IS THE COLOR OF TOMATO SOUP,
APRIL FOOL, APRIL FOOL.
THERE’S A GREAT BIG GORILLA IN THE CHICKEN COOP,
APRIL APRIL FOOL!
Refrain:
LOOK OUT THE WINDOW, WHAT D’ YA SEE?
PEACHES ON THE CHERRY TREE.
I FOOL YOU, YOU FOOL ME,
THIS IS APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
2nd Verse:
THE CAT’S IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CUSTARD PIE,
APRIL FOOL, APRIL FOOL.
THERE’S A DOG IN THE KITCHEN AND HE’S TEN FEET HIGH,
APRIL, A PRIL FOOL!
(Refrain)
3rd Verse:
THE PIG IN THE PARLOR HAS A BIG CIGAR,
APRIL FOOL, APRIL FOOL.
THERE’S A TWO HEADED ELEPHANT IN DADDY’S CAR,
APRIL, APRIL FOOL!
(Refrain)
4th Verse:
THE COW IN THE CLOVER GAVE THE HORSE A K ISS,
APRIL FOOL, APRIL FOOL.
YOU CAN’T EVER SING A SILLY SONG LIKE THIS,
‘CEPT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
APRIL APRIL FOOL!
 
Whichever way you decide to celebrate this holiday as long as it is done in good clean fun, it’s a great day.  If by chance you are the one pranked remember your sense of humor and laugh with the prankster.
 
 

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