From Denny: Just how old is the April Fools Day custom? Back in the 1500's, about 1582 in France, the day began as a way to ridicule stodgy people who were too stubborn to change with the times. Spring time is the season of change and cultures have always honored it. What funnier way to honor the concept of change in our lives than to play an April Fool's Day joke on someone? Tell yourself to be a good sport if you find yourself on the other side of that practical joke. The whole point of the day is to learn how to laugh at yourself because that is a sure sign that you are no fool. Ah, the road to wisdom... :)
The other name for the day is All Fools Day. April first was considered the first day of Spring. The whole concept of refusing change can be pinpointed to a significant event: the changing of the calendar. Up until this time the first day of the year was in Spring or April first. Then along came Charles IX who introduced the Gregorian Calendar to replace the older Julian calendar - so New Year's Day was moved to January first.
It took years before most people even learned of the date change for the first day of the year and they did not believe it, so refused to change. Because these people refused to accept the change they were labeled as "backward" and ridiculed as fools by the majority of the people. Then the pranks evolved such as being sent on "a fool's errand" by looking for things that don't exist and practical jokes of trying to get people to believe the most ridiculous things.
The continued harassment managed to become formalized into prank playing just on the old first day of the year: April first. In time the French fun spread across the water to England and Scotland by the eighteenth century. Of course, it wasn't long before the fun was contagious and it infected America and the rest of the world, evolving into an international fun fest.
Every country has their own odd brand of humor for the day with Scotland as the "blame of origin" for one particular practice:
Celebrated for two days, they specialize in pranks "on the posterior region of the body." Read that as your butt and is called Taily Day. Remember the "Kick me" sign school kids would play as pranks on one another? You can trace the origin of that prank to the Scottish.
April Fool's Day Poems
The maple syrup's full of ants.
A mouse is creeping on the shelf.
Is that a spider on your back?
I ate the whole pie by myself.
The kitchen sink just overflowed.
A flash flood washed away the school.
I threw your blanket in the trash.
I never lie----I---
- Myra Cohn Livingston
Small April sobbed, I'm going to cry
Please give me a cloud to wipe my eye;
Then April Fool, she laughed instead
And smiled a rainbow overhead.
Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee,
And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.
- Robert Frost, "Cluster of Faith," 1962
The BBC's funny April Fools Day: 1957 Spaghetti Harvest
Also, here's a funny link from the Museum of Hoaxes: The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time
Photo by Tansan @ flickr
* April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. - Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894
* Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. - Mark Twain
* A fellow who is always declaring he's no fool, usually has his suspicions. - Anonymous
* Politicians never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. - Thomas Reed
* Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. - Chinese Proverb
* Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side. - Jewish Proverb
* A mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy, and another woman makes a fool of him in twenty minutes. - Robert Frost
* The world is full of fools; and he who would not wish to see one, must not only shut himself up alone, but must also break his looking-glass. - Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
Photo by nao-cha @ flickr
* Every fool finds a greater one to admire them. - Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
* A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a learned fool the taste of wisdom. - Welsh Proverb
* What a fool does in the end, the wise do in the beginning. - Spanish Proverb
* Fools build houses, and wise men buy them. - English Proverb
* Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish. - Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)
* You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. - Colette (1873 - 1954), in New York World-Telegram and Sun, 1961
* Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It's good to be silly at the right moment. - Horace (65 BC - 8 BC)
* Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish. Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria
* So, rather than appear foolish afterward, I renounce seeming clever now. - William of Baskerville in 'The Name of the Rose'
* It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly. - Anatole France (1844 - 1924)
* The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly. - William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) in 'As You Like It'
* Foolproof systems to not take into account the ingenuity of fools. - Gene Brown
* For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. - Alexander Pope
* Fortune, seeing that she could not make fools wise, has made them lucky. - Michel de Montaigne
Photo by I'm Fantastic @ flickr
* When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. - Cynthia Heimel
* A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. - William Blake
* Take all the fools out of this world and there wouldn't be any fun living in it, or profit. - Josh Billings
* Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it. - Benjamin Franklin
* He who is born a fool is never cured. - Proverb
* The mistakes of the fool are known to the world, but not to himself.
* The mistakes of the wise man are known to himself, but not to the world. - Charles Caleb Colton
* Wise men learn more from fools - than fools from the wise. - Cato the Elder
* If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings. - Welsh Proverb
* I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it. - Jack Handey
* We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb
* You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. - Abraham Lincoln
* Even the gods love jokes. - Plato
* The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected. - Will Rogers
* A man always blames the woman who fools him. In the same way he blames the door he walks into in the dark. - Henry Louis Mencken
* A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. - Douglas Adams
* It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor. - Max Eastman
* Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools. - Irish Proverb
* A sense of humor is the ability to understand a joke-and that the joke is oneself. - Clifton Paul Fadiman
* It is better to weep with wise men than to laugh with fools. - Spanish Proverb
* I have great faith in fools - self-confidence, my friends call it. - Edgar Allan Poe
* The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being, but to remind him that he is already degraded. - George Orwell
* Men reach their sexual peak at eighteen. Women reach theirs at thirty-five. Do you get the feeling that God is playing a practical joke? - Rita Rudner
* Suppose the world were only one of God's jokes, would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one? - George Bernard Shaw
* Real friends are those who, when you feel you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel you've done a permanent job. - Anonymous
* To be a man's fool is bad enough; but the vain man is everybody's. - Penn
* Wise men learn by other men's mistakes, fools by their own. - H.G. Bohn
* Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness. - Sacha Guitry (1885 - 1957)
* A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends. - Balthasar Gracian
* Controversy equalizes fools and wise men...and the fools know it. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
* Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something. - Plato
* A fool flatters himself, a wise man flatters the fool. - Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
* Only a fool knows everything. A wise man knows how little he knows. - Anonymous
* You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!" - Dave Barry
* Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. - Carl Gustav Jung
* A sense of humor is the only divine quality of man. - Arthur Schopenhauer
* The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself a fool. - Shakespeare
* I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying. - Oscar Wilde
* Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark, or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill
And don't forget to wear your special outfit on this special day. You too can wear a table, designed by Samuel Cirnansck for "women as furniture." Now there's a weird statement perfect for an odd day of the year!
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