Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where did April Fool's Day come from?

My 4-year-old is all about April Fool's Day this year. Me? I've never been one for pranks, but I've always loved a good joke (especially if good = silly). Over at Child Caring, I've offered up a brief history of the day, along with links to five great, family-friendly April Fool's Day sites.

April Fool's Day has been taking place in France since the late 1500s, when Pope Gregory XIII switched from the Julian calendar, which celebrated New Year's Day in the springtime around April 1, to the Gregorian calendar, which dictated that the New Year began on January 1. Those who disregarded the change -- or who hadn't heard about it -- were called fools and were tricked into going on "fool's errands." (Of course, there are loopholes in that explanation, most historians say, though it seem to be the most plausible of the bunch. For more theories, click over to the Museum of Hoaxes).

Regardless of its origin, April Fool's Day is celebrated in different days in different countries -- in Scotland, for instance, the jokes have to do with one's backside, the day is called "Taily Day," and the classic "Kick Me" sign reigns supreme (my 10-year-old will want to move to Scotland after he learns this). In England, the rules are that jokes can only be played in the morning. And in the US, of course, pretty much anything goes.

If you're looking on some fun ways to celebrate (harmlessly!), here are a few options:

Elephant jokes.
Knock Knock jokes.
Harmless pranks.

Have a fun day!

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