Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Story of April Fools’ Day

Today is April 1 and it is one of my least favorite days of the year. I am always so afraid of what other people are going to be doing for their own amusement. Also, I’ve watched enough cartoons to know that young people can be very creative and cause a lot of trouble. There are plenty of pranks that are funny where no one gets hurt but everyone has a good laugh. The ones like putting a KICK ME sign on someone’s back, are fine. No one actually kicks that person, at least not hard. But then there are the scary ones like putting rubber bugs on someone’s desk. I really don’t like bugs. Anything with bugs or snakes, even if they're fake, are not fun. I guess the big reason I’m afraid of April Fools’ Day is because I’m afraid of so many things: bugs, snakes, loud noises, fast movements, human contact in general. All of these things bring about various degrees of discomfort. So what inspired this horrible holiday? 

Because the day has been celebrated for years,  no one knows the exact story. Here is an article form the History Channel that I found interesting. My favorite story is the switching of the calendar. 

For centuries people used the Julian calendar, established by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. The calendar was used for centuries but incorrectly calculated a year by 11 minutes. Overtime, this miscalculation began to affect the time of year when Easter was celebrated. For this reason, scholars got to work on fixing the calendar. In 1563, at the Council of Trent, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull changing the official calendar of the Church. Yes, this was the during the Protestant schism and it caused some challenges. Catholic countries like Spain and Italy quickly adopted the new Gregorian calendar for the civil duties, but Protestant countries like Germany and England, held out—for a time. Today, most of the western world uses the Gregorian calendar. Moral of the story: If you like your calendar, thank a Catholic. The calendar can still use a bit of work because it is off by 26 seconds. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but by the year 4909, it will be off by a whole day. 


Back to April Fools’ Day. People using the Julian calendar celebrated the new year during the last week of March while the Gregorian calendar celebrated the new year on January 1. This caused people (I assume Catholics unaware of the merits of the Works of Mercy) to mock and play pranks on the people still using the Julian calendar. 

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