History Of April Fool's Day
The history of April Fools Day one steeped in ambiguity. Many believe the observance came about as the result of the blending of different culture's celebrations of spring. The origin of the holiday can be traced back to France and the year 1582. Up until that time the New Year had been celebrated for the duration of the time between March twenty-fifth and April first, encompassing eight days of observance and festivities. During the reign of Charles IX, New Year's was moved to the first of January based on the newly instated Gregorian Calendar. Back in those times the ability for instant communications was non-existent, therefore not everyone was informed about official changing of dates. A large number of people remained who continued to hold celebrations for the eight days following March twenty-fifth, as opposed to January first. There was also a contingent of stubborn people who simply refused to acknowledge the change over to the Gregorian Calendar.
Obstinate people came to be considered fools by the majority of the population, and were subsequently made fun of for sticking to the old ways. Such people subsequently played integral roles in the history of April Fools day. These 'fools' were made fun of and were the subjects of many jokes and pranks. Thus, over the years the playing of pranks became the norm on the first of April, and April Fool's, or All Fool's day, was born. The prank playing spread from Europe to other parts of the world during the eighteenth century, and now almost every culture acknowledges the holiday in some fashion. For example, in Scotland the celebrations are spread over a two day period. The Scottish view the holiday as the time for jokes concerning the rear portions of the body, and refer to the day as Taily Day. The infamous 'kick me' sign is believed to have originated from the celebrations.
Practical jokes and pranks are common and expected on the first of April. Anyone can become a prankster as jokes can be made about anything, and can be even be done simply by sending free April Fool's day e-cards. The holiday is one when practical jokes abound. Everyone can participate, from the very old to the very young and all those in between. There is no limit to the imagination, therefore there is no end to the schemes of prankster's. People should be on their guard more so at the time than any other time of the year. For those who desire to become prank players yet have no ideas can find the internet to be helpful. There are hundreds of websites that offer ideas and examples of gags, and in some cases testimonials and personal accounts of pranks that have been played. Many websites offer free April Fool's day e-cards which are humorous, and allow for a few laughs at no one's expense.
The history of April Fools Day includes many countries and peoples from around the world. The Roman's celebrated the holiday in their own way. They held a Festival of Hilaria on March twenty-fifth to celebrate the resurrection of one of their gods, Attis, the god of vegetation. The twenty-fifth of March is also known as the Roman Laughing day. The French call the gullible 'poisson d'avril' , meaning 'April Fish' as fish are easily caught, especially the young naive ones, much like an unsuspecting individual can be caught in a gag. The jokesters in England generally cease after the hour of noon, acting out pranks is considered bad luck later in the afternoon. Americans nationwide acknowledge the time as one of fun and frivolity.
April Fool's is an official holiday, however, not a federal holiday, but acknowledged nonetheless. No businesses closed down or schools close. Plenty of people see the time as an excuse to have fun at the expense of others, whether by playing pranks or simply by sending free April Fool's day e-cards. Jokes abound more on this holiday than any other a popular time and even common for pranksters to try and get others to believe ridiculous things. Those who happen to be gullible in nature can really be taken advantage of and have been throughout the history of April Fools day. The victims of such pranks originally were sent on fool's errands and generally made fun of for their gullibility. Currently, similar gags are put into action, with lesser jokes being more common. In recent years gag gifts have become popular, and most commonly used jokes include convincing someone of a shoe being untied or of food or some other foreign mark on one's face. Whoopee cushions have transcended the years, as have such pranks as sewing closed the leg of one's pants.
Jokes can be quite elaborate, oftentimes including one or more people to pull a single prank on an unsuspecting individual. Pranks have also been pulled on the public by the mass media. Well known fast food chains have, in the past, fooled hundreds into believing some form of false advertising. News organizations have also run very minor false news stories on April first just for fun. Some might wonder who the fools really are on this day, as occasionally the pranksters appear more foolish than the victims, "It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom" (Proverbs 10:23). No matter how one chooses to celebrate the holiday, ideas abound with myriad pranks, jokes, gag gifts and free April Fool's day e-cards available. This light hearted time of year allows for many, the opportunity to take a break from the serious side of life. As Mark Twain said, "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year".
History Of Columbus DayMost adults who studied the history of Columbus Day in grade school can only remember the one-line rhyme: "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." And many people often ask, "When is Columbus Day?" However, it would surprise most Americans to know that one of the least understood holidays in the United States is celebrated all over the world in some form. But the annual commemoration of the finding of the New World by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is much more controversial than grade school history books reveal. In the United States, the holiday is observed on the second Monday in October with little fanfare. Retail merchants typically hold special sales, the Post Office and government agencies are closed, and banks observe the historical event as a Federal Reserve holiday. But unlike 4th of July or Christmas, the average citizen does little to celebrate the Spanish discovery of the uncharted New World.
The history of Columbus Day reveals that in 1492, Spanish monarchs commissioned the explorer to set sail for India to establish a new trade route. Three ships were to make the voyage: the Nina, the Pina and the Santa Maria. But instead of sailing to India, the expedition accidentally landed on an uncharted continent inhabited by indigenous peoples. It was not until the year 1507, after the explorer's death that the continent he believed to be India was actually called America by Martin Waldseemuller, a skilled cartographer. Waldseemuller named the Western hemisphere after Amerigo (Americus.L) Vespucci, a travel journalist whose work correctly identified the original location.
The New World in the late fifteenth century must have been rich with precious minerals, crude oil, crystal springs, and black peat suitable for farming. A land flowing with milk and honey, Pre-Colonial America's bountiful resources, vast plains, and lush forests captivated the Europeans. The indigenous people had undoubtedly developed fairly substantial settlements with large agricultural plots. Horses and other livestock would have been plentiful. Wild turkeys, chickens, wild boars, and pheasant would also have been in abundance. The desire to claim the new continent for Spain must have been overwhelming for members of the expedition. The Admiral of the Ocean Sea reportedly voiced intentions of becoming governor of the new American empire, conquering the natives who were called "Indians," and using them as servants.
According to the history of Columbus Day, the fifteenth century explorer initially decided to convert the Indians to Christianity. Records indicate that at least one Spanish priest traveled to the New World to make new converts. Historical accounts sadly reveal that the Italian Admiral may have failed at a fledgling religious crusade, but succeeded in perpetuating genocide, violence and enslavement against the indigenous people. The history of Columbus Day claims that European expeditions to the New World also brought diseases which devastated vast numbers of Native Americans, causing a near extinction of several tribes. Enslaved by European conquistadors, the Native Americans fell prey to starvation and degradation and were gradually displaced from their lands. The Bible warns us not to oppress others for self-gain. "Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage" (Micah 2:1-2). While most Americans hail the holiday as a laudable feat, taking pride in the late fifteenth century discovery and ultimate colonization of the Western hemisphere; many nationalities decry the celebration as offensive to the indigenous people who populated the continent, perhaps thousands of years prior to the European expedition.
The question, When is Columbus Day may not be the real issue, since many in the U.S. and abroad continue to observe the date, but prefer to rename the holiday. Some domestic and foreign governments choose to recognize the displaced Native American people, rather than honor the explorer who enslaved them. In tribute to the original American Indians, U.S. cities like Berkely, California and Denver, Colorado refer to the holiday as "Indigenous Peoples Day." South Dakotans commemorate "Native American Day." Some Latin Americans prefer to commemorate "Dia de la Raza," or "Day of the People." Since 2002, Venezuela has been explicit in calling the second Monday in October "Dia de lad Resistencia Indigena," or "Day of Indigenous Resistance." Many native Hawaiians also advocate focusing attention not on Columbus discovery, but in support of Native Americans as a show of ethnic pride and solidarity.
In 1990, a conference of more than 350 Native Americans from across the world convened in Quito, Ecuador to officially oppose the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. Two years later in Davis, California, over a hundred Native Americans proclaimed October 12, 1992 as the International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People. The National Council of Churches later issued an appeal for all Christians worldwide to boycott participation in the 500th-year anniversary celebration in recognition of and respect for the cause of displaced Native Americans.
The next time someone asks, "When is Columbus Day," the history of the discovery of the New World may cause one to reflect on the plight of Native Americans and indigenous peoples all over the globe. While Americans enjoy so many freedoms afforded the country by God's grace and man's intellect, one cannot but hope that those freedoms are not taken for granted. The lessons learned from history need to be heeded. Rather than asking, "When is Columbus Day," one might well ask "What is Columbus Day?" To most, the second Monday in October is simply another opportunity to take off from work or catch a sale. To some, it evokes a sense of ethnic pride. But to so many others, Columbus Day represents a time of deep, dark oppression. Hopefully, a compassionate global community will prevent history from repeating itself.