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Journal Entry - Monday, April 1, 2024

April Fool’s Day

Also known as “All Fools Day,” its origin is somewhat shrouded in mystery. My preferred explanation originates from the late 1600s. France, after the Council of Trent, switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Before the Council’s order in 1563, the new year according to the Julian Calendar, began on the Spring Equinox. The date varied each year as the Lunar Cycle differed slightly from year to year. The Gregorian Calendar chose January 1 as the start of the new year, presumably to simplify and standardize the new year’s starting date. People who were slow to adopt the news of this change were considered to be “April Fools.” It was customary to attach paper fish to their backs signifying their gullibility. It makes sense if you’re French apparently.

Pranks have become the way to celebrate April 1st. My favorite was pulled off by the BBC in 1976. They reported that at 9:47 AM, an unusual alignment between Jupiter and Pluto would allow people to briefly levitate. Sure enough at 9:48, hundreds of people phoned in to report that they had actually levitated. They were (presumable) not wearing paper fish.

Another classic prank was pulled off by NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” radio show in 1992. The show reported that Richard Nixon was returning to political life, the segment that was aired was complete with the voice of Richard Nixon apologizing and declaring he would never lie again. The voice was recorded by the famous comedian and impressionist Rich Little.

All of this simply goes to show that you don’t need a special day once a year to shade people and get them to believe outrageous things. Example: the willingness of people to buy Bibles from someone who has never even read one and can’t quote a single verse from his $59.99 “special” edition.

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