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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Flying on April Fool's Day

Happy April Fool's Day! Do you know the history of April Fool's Day? Apparently no one knows for sure, but here is the theory one that is the most popular.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.

There is even reference to April Fool's Day in the Bible. It was once popular to christianize April Fool’s Day by locating its origin in Biblical traditions. For instance, the tradition was attributed to Noah’s mistake of sending a dove out from the ark before the flood waters had subsided (thereby sending the dove on a fool’s errand). A second story suggests that the day commemorates the time when Jesus was sent from Pilate to Herod and back again. The phrase “Sending a man from Pilate to Herod” (an old term for sending someone on a fool’s errand) was often pointed to as proof of this origin theory.

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