According to an encyclopedia, April 1 or April Fool’s Day is a traditional day for playing pranks on unsuspecting people. The origin is uncertain, but it may be related to the arrival of spring when nature plays weather pranks on humans. And we thought it was El Nino.
It is believed the first April Fool’s Day was celebrated in France in 1582. That was when we began to use the Gregorian calendar which began the new year on January 1. Before that the new year began on April 1. The folks who continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1 were called April Fools.
When you consider that America tried for years to get us to use meters and liters to measure and finally gave up, I have to wonder what kind of ad campaign they used to change the beginning of a new year from April to January.
April Fool’s Day was never a big celebration around our house. Actually the best pranks were not on that day because everyone was on guard.
Way back when we had only two children I received a call on that day and a strange male voice informed me, “…your husband has been seriously injured at work. Can you go to the hospital immediately?”
I knew what day it was, and I knew my brother-in-law was the ultimate prankster.
I stormed back, “That’s not the least bit funny! What’s wrong with you? April Fool!,” and I slammed down the phone.
Within seconds it rang again. I picked it up, ready to really tell him off when the voice said, “Please don’t hang up! This is no joke! This is real! Please… are you there?”
Bill ended up in the hospital for two weeks. Of course, if the same thing happened today he would probably only get two days.
My dad told me that when he was in school a great prank was making cottage cheese look like a piece of chalk for an unwary teacher or student. As a teacher I was always prepared for just about anything that day, but I don’t recall anything particularly wild happening.
One year we had a hard winter with lots of blizzards, ice, and emergency days out of school. In fact the state was talking about ordering the schools to make up the days.
So, on April 1, I told my homeroom class that the state had ordered us to make up the days and by last period they would get to vote whether they wanted to go to school for five Saturdays or go for five days longer in June.
They griped, groused and debated throughout the day. Last period they were ready to vote, but we waited until the last five minutes. They reminded me when it was time.
“About the makeup days, I announced, “April Fool! We don’t have to vote. The state says we don’t have to make them up. You can go home and relax!”
They stared at me, then at each other, in disbelief. The bell rang, and they went out laughing — except for one. He went out muttering something about the stupid state, making up days, and not even letting him vote on it.
He was gone before I realized what he said. I spent the rest of the day waiting for a call from his parents.
So, if you play April Fool’s pranks, follow the advice of one website. “Be nice, be legal, and remember what goes around comes around.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on April 2, 1998.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.