Happy April Fool’s Day, 2017!
This date, April 1, is universally associated with practical jokes, pranks and foolishness. I’m not exactly sure of the reason and researching the topic has proved to be as confusing as an April Fool’s Day joke. The closest explanation that I can find is that the date first was recorded in English in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392. This doesn’t explain the why as much as it offers a historical context for the custom.
Before the modern practices of responsible journalism were adopted, newspapers often are credited with publishing hoaxes on this day. Hence the photograph above showing a huge bare giant prostrating himself in a modern urban area. The image, I’m certain, isn’t real but altered to convey that meaning to those viewing it. Given that as late as 50 years ago, most people received their news from the printed media, I can understand how such a picture, printed on the front page of a newspaper, could cause widespread panic and chaos among the publication’s subscribers.
I imagine that was the reason for the adoption of responsible journalism ethics. That and the liability in the case of heart attacks suffered from the newspaper’s readers.
There are many varied theories as to the origin of April Fool’s Day, but none of them can be verified. I do know that this day, known as April Fool’s Day, is certainly not a public holiday anywhere in the world, at least, not as April Fool’s Day. Now, that would be too good to be true. A government declaring a national holiday in honor of fools! Given the number of fools who actually serve as leaders, this comes as a surprise that it hasn’t already happened before now!
But I have digressed from Mr. Geoffrey Chaucer. In his notable work, Canterbury Tales, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale is the one attributed as the earliest reference to April Fool’s Day in the English language. In this particular tale, the vain rooster, Chanticleer, is tricked by the wily old fox, Reynard. Thus, the first historical April Fool in our literary heritage.
Laughter makes the world go around, right? So sit back and relax. April Fool’s Day comes just once a year. So if you’re the victim of a prank or the instigator of a practical joke, have fun and remember to see the humor in every situation. Remember, you have an entire year to plan and to plot your revenge!
Happy April Fool’s Day!