“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” ~Mark Twain
April Fools’ Day is also known as All Fools’ Day. In France, they call it “April Fish.” In Scotland, it’s referred to as “hunting the cuckoo.” This is a fun, light-hearted holiday on which people like to play silly tricks and practical jokes on one another. In most cases, the trickster ends it by shouting “April Fool!” Being a fool doesn't mean someone is stupid, but that they can be easily lead astray.
People have been playing pranks on April Fools’ Day for hundreds of years. The custom may have started with the adoption of the reformed calendar by France in 1564. Anyone who resisted changing New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1 was considered foolish and was targeted by pranksters. In France, the victim of a prank or hoax is called a “poisson d'avril,” an April fish. This is a young fish that’s easily caught. French children like to fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs.
The idea of April Fools’ Day spread through Europe and then over to the American colonies. It became especially popular in 18th-century England. Times may change and conventional wisdom may mature, but one thing people never seem to grow out of is the desire to put one over on unsuspecting victims. Just imagine all of the ways that people can be fooled simply by letting them jump to conclusions. This is evidenced by the prevalence of hoaxes and the popularity of urban legends.
Traditional April Fools’ Day gags include sending someone on a fool’s errand, making someone look for an object that doesn’t exist, or tricking someone into believing something absurd. The media often join in on the fun, and on this day one has to watch out for unusual news reports that cannot possibly be true.
Pranks performed on April Fool’s Day range from simply telling someone “Your shoe’s untied!” to elaborate practical jokes that last the entire day. The origin of the “kick me” sign can be traced to this day. One trick involves tying a string to a purse, laying the purse on a sidewalk, then jerking it away when someone attempts to pick it up. In a variation on this theme, a person might glue quarters to the sidewalk and watch people try to pick them up. Other common practices consist of inviting friends to a fake party, or setting the clock back (or forward) an hour.
“A fool, a fool! I met a fool in the forest, a motley fool.” ~Shakespeare, As You Like It
Long ago, people did not have nearly as many forms of entertainment as we do now. For their amusement, kings and queens often had special servants called court jesters, fools, or harlequins. The jester’s duty was to say funny things and perform antics like modern clowns do in the circus. If the king was in a bad mood, he might call upon his jester to tell a joke that would make him laugh. Woe to the jester who failed to amuse when called upon to do so!
Jesters were called fools because of the crazy or idiotic way they acted. However, many professional jesters were actually quite clever. If a jester was really witty and amusing, he enjoyed privileges that were denied to everyone else at court. Rulers would often ask a jester for his opinions. Sometimes a jester said very daring things. A king might let his jester say things that other people wouldn’t dare to say.
Jesters wore ridiculous looking costumes, similar to those that some circus clowns wear today. Many jesters had tiny bells attached to pointed caps and pointed shoes. The cloth of a typical jester’s costume was called “motley” - meaning “many-colored” - because it had checkered patches of many colors. A jester sometimes carried a fool’s scepter, which was a rod with a fool’s head on the end. The jester would make people laugh by pretending to be a king and acting as if his fool’s scepter was a real scepter.
While the existence of royal jesters can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece, they reached their heyday during the Middle Ages, although the practice of having a court jester continued through the 17th century. The fool often played an important role in Shakespeare’s plays, such as “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It,” and “King Lear.”
Fools in the Bible
The Bible contains many references to fools, especially in Proverbs and Psalms. These verses tell us to avoid fools, to choose wisely, and to live according to God's will. God can rightly point out the foolishness of our deeds, just as Jesus called the hypocritical Pharisees fools. But Jesus tells us not to call anyone a fool simply out of unrighteous anger (Matthew 5:22). So take heed of what the Bible says about foolishness. That way, you can more easily lead a smart and holy life.
“The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” ~Psalm 14:1
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~Proverbs 1:7
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” ~Proverbs 18:2
“Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands.” ~Proverbs 14:1
“A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in.” ~Proverbs 29:11
“The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.” ~Ecclesiastes 9:17
“Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:9
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” ~Titus 3:3
4 Don't respond to the stupidity of a fool; you'll only look foolish yourself.
April Foolishness, by Teresa Bateman. (A funny rhyming story for children.)
Arthur's April Fool, by Marc Brown. (Fans of the Arthur TV show will like this book.)
The Jester Has Lost His Jingle, by David Saltzman. (In this rhyming picture book, a jester banished from court for failing to amuse sets out to rediscover laughter in the world.)
Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester around the World, by Beatrice K. Otto. (Written with wit and humor, this book is a comprehensive look at one of the most colorful characters in history—the court jester.)
The Museum of Hoaxes, by Alex Boese. (A fascinating overview of some of the most infamous hoaxes in history, from medieval times to the present day, including tricks, pranks, publicity stunts, scientific frauds and outright scams.)
Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends, by Jan Harold Brunvand. (A truly colossal anthology of horrendous and hilarious stories that sound as if they’re true and most of the tellers believe are true, but somehow can never be verified.)
http://godtalk.hubpages.com/hub/The-Fool-in-the-Bible (The Fool in the Bible.)
http://bible-verses.ochristian.com/Fools-Bible-Verses/ (Fools Bible Verses.)
http://www.bible-topics.com/Fools.html (Bible Topics: Fools.)
www.museumofhoaxes.com/aprilframe.html (This April Fool’s Day Gallery includes: The Origin of April Fool’s Day; an April Fool’s Day Quiz; Top 100 April Fools Day Hoaxes of All Time as judged by notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped; Top 10 Worst April Fool’s Day Hoaxes Ever - attempts at humor that didn’t turn out so well.)
www.thefoolsday.com (April Fool’s Day website.)
http://wilstar.com/holidays/aprilfool.htm (April Fool’s History, Traditions, and Foolishness.)
www.geocities.com/foldingca/Swami/poisson.htm (An April fish fold.)
www.snopes.com (Urban Legends Reference Pages.)
www.truthorfiction.com (Don't be fooled - before you forward that e-mail, check it out at TruthOrFiction.com!)
www.infoplease.com/quizzes/hoax/1.html (Famous Hoaxes Quiz: How much do you know about historical hoaxes?)
ARIZONA | LEARNING FOR LIFE | PRODUCT CATALOG | LINK LIBRARY | ABOUT US | CONTACT
These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Thanks for your votes!
and purchase items via our
affiliate links. Thank you!