April Fool’s Day

Now that most UAA students have recovered (I hope) from sunburns and hangovers suffered during our spring break, we have to watch out for April Fool's Day. Luckily, it falls on a Sunday this year so we may be buffered a bit from practical jokes that could affect our classes. One prank usually pulled on college campuses is to set roommates' clocks ahead an hour so they will think they've overslept and missed their classes. Another prank is to put salt in the sugar container and sugar in the salt shaker. Not real funny if you're on the receiving end of a load of salt dumped in your coffee.

How did April Fool's Day get started? The most common explanation I found was that in 16th Century France the start of the new year was observed on the vernal Equinox, March 21. People partied and danced late into the night, much as we do today on New Year's Eve. However, since this partying occurred during the “Holy Week,” Christians usually postponed their New Year's celebration until April 1.           

In 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world that changed the beginning of the new year to Jan. 1. Charles IX of France implemented the Gregorian calendar in 1564. However, some people did not hear of the change and continued to celebrate on April 1. They became known as “April fools,” and people played pranks on them. Today, the French call April 1 “Poisson d'Avril.” Children tape paper fish to their friends' backs and when the little “fools” discover the joke, the pranksters yell “Poisson d'Avril!” (April Fish!).

Another theory as to the origin of the fool's day involves the ancient festival of Cerelia. During this Roman feast, the people celebrated the story of Proserpina who was abducted by the Roman God Pluto while she gathered lilies in a valley. Distraught over her daughter's kidnapping, Proserpina's mother Ceres searched in vain for her. Due to the hopelessness of Ceres' mission to find her daughter, her quest was called the “fool's errand.”

My fool's errand has been to come up with creative pranks to pull on unsuspecting victims on that special day. Sometimes, however, my creativity has backfired. One year, one of my coworkers was on a business trip and was scheduled to return on April 1. Another coworker and I emptied out his office, leaving only the bulletin board that was nailed to the wall. We tacked a note onto the board that read, “So, you think you're missed, huh?”

He never suspected that the two female executives of the company would pull such a prank and stormed around the building accusing several of the male employees. He was shocked when we finally confessed to the crime.

Later that morning, he invited us to lunch and offered to drive. He said, “And don't worry about taking your purses. Lunch is on me.” We should have suspected something.          

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He dropped us off in front of the restaurant Elevation 92 on 3rd Avenue and told us to go inside while he parked the car. He never returned. We had to walk six blocks back to the office, in our high heels, through wet slush that was four inches deep.

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”