Publisher’s Perspective

By Tim Douglass, Publisher of the Pope County Tribune

Have you been the victim of an April Fools’ Day joke?

Most of us probably have had some kind of prank pulled on us on April 1.  When I was a youngster, my younger brother would wake me up and tell me there was a blizzard outside and school was called off.  That one time that worked, I hurried to the window to see no snow and realized I’d have to go to school.

He tried the same joke for several years after that, but I didn’t fall for it again.  There were others that worked, mostly things that could be figured out very quickly.

Still, as I reminisced about past April Fools’ Day jokes, I wondered what was the origin of such a day.

Of course, these days you don’t have to do heavy research to get an idea.  I did a bit of internet research so readers wouldn’t have to. Here’s what I found.

The origin of April Fools’ Day is not known for sure, but it is believed that the practice dates back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian Calendar and confirmed that the new calendar would start on January 1. However, in the older version of the calendar, the year started around April 1.

So, when the calendars were switched, some people continued to celebrate the new year from the last week of March through April 1. People then started mocking those who stuck to the old calendar and this is how the practice of April Fools’ Day began.

Historians are also known to link April Fools’ Day to “festivals such as Hilaria,” which in Latin means joyful. On this day, people in ancient Rome would dress up in disguises, make fun of each other and play games.

April Fools’ Day is also linked to the vernal equinox, which is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The day also comes close on the heels of the Indian festival of Holi, the Persian festival of Sizdah Bedar and the Jewish Purim. Surprisingly all three festivals in early spring involve various forms of merriment and frivolity.

That’s a combination of what I found out.  But who really cares.

The day simply serves as a reminder to not take ourselves too seriously and to embrace the lighter side of life. It also provides a much-needed break from the monotony of routine life and an opportunity to indulge in some fun.