April 1st, April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day is day for jokes and playing tricks on friends and family. Who can ever forget the simple childhood pleasure derived from telling your friend his shoelace was undone, or pointing at your Father’s trousers and saying in a serious voice, ‘Dad, your flies are undone’.
Evidently the origins for April Fools are said to lie within Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, although the reasoning does seem a bit vague and obscure. Similarly another origin often cited is that it comes from France with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar and the moving of New Year celebrations from the last week of March to 1 January. Thereby those still celebrating on 1 April were derided as ‘poissons d’Avril’. A nice idea, but the new calendar was introduced over the space of nearly a century!
Whatever the origins April Fools’ Day has been with us for a long time and celebrated in many countries.Part of the fun of April Fools Day is spotting the spoof article in the national papers or on the television and radio. In 1957 the BBC reported on the bumper annual spaghetti harvest showing pictures of workers picking it from the trees. A colony of flying penguins was discovered in 2008. The list is quite endless.
So excuse me for thinking the national papers have jumped the gun and been running their stories early this year. The front headlines of one paper today boldly state ‘Branded a criminal for selling a goldfish’. It turns out that a 66 year old pet shop owner apparently sold a goldfish to an underage 14 year old, in direct contravention of new animal welfare laws banning the sale of pets to anyone unaccompanied and under the age of 16. And the punishment for such a crime? The perpetrator was fined £1000, placed under a 7 week curfew between the hours of 6PM to 7AM and ordered to wear an electronic tag for 2 months. Now just who are the real ‘Fools’ in this case!
Last week it was the tale of a Jedi in the JobCentre which pre empted April Fools’ Day. A benefits claimant seeking work in a JobCentre was asked to put his hoodie hood down. Cue claims of infringement of personal religious beliefs and discrimination. He even received a written apology. Now excuse my ignorance here, but when did ‘Jedi’ become a ‘religion’, official or not. If you want to follow the philosophy and beliefs of some guys in a science fiction adventure film, albeit a good one, that’s fine with me but to call it a ‘religion’. Yes, I know lots of people entered ‘Jedi’ on their census forms, and it’s supposed the fourth largest ‘religion’ in the country and there’s a campaign for a worldwide ‘Jedi’ Day. All I am saying is, if I had read the story on April 1st I might not have believed it.
So whatever you do on April Fool’s Day, enjoy your jolly japes and jokes, but be careful what you read in the newspapers!
May the force be with you.