Sunday, 1 April 2012

April Fool's Day

"Man is the only animals that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference of what things are, and what they ought to be." ~ William Hazlitt

Blogger is changing yet again on 1st April - I hope it doesn't turn out to be an April Fool that we have to live with for months to come.

Happy April 1st. A day traditionally known as April Fool's Day or All Fools’ Day. [Please note the difference in where the apostrophe lies with those two titles.] No one seems to know who or why this day was called April Fool's Day, but evidence of this day goes back at least as far as Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' published in 1392.

This therefore gives the lie to the idea that it stems from when New Year's Day was changed from March 25th to January 1st. In the Middle Ages March 25th was celebrated as New Year's Day and a week long celebration would ensue ending on April 1st. It has been alleged that when New Year's Day was changed to January 1st, that those who still celebrated the 'old ways' because they were traditionalists – or simply hadn’t yet heard about the change - were considered fools.  I suppose the folk at Blogger would consider me a fool because I am used to doing things the old way and see no reason to switch.

Pass me my cane and hat will you, I'm off out...

In Annunciation Style dating the new year started on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. This was used in many parts of Europe in the Middle Ages. Annunciation Style continued to be used officially in Great Britain until 1 January 1752 except in Scotland which [being cut off from the rest of the country] changed to Circumcision Style dating on 1 January 1600. The rest of Great Britain changed to the Feast of Circumcision Style on 1 January preceding the conversion in Great Britain from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 3/14 September 1752.

The Julian Calendar that had been in use until that time had been developed 1700 years earlier, at the order of Julius Caesar, and had worked very well in the beginning but by the 16th century the seasons had grown out of alignment with the date. A new calendar was developed under the auspices of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582/3 and the Catholic countries of Europe were quick to adopt it. It took much longer for the Protestant countries to make the switch which meant that, for several centuries, two different calendars were in use in Europe. [One remarkable side effect of this was that getting on board an Alitalia flight to Italy involved not only putting your watch on but playing with your calendar and trying to see if you could have a fortnight’s holiday in the sun without being away from home at all].

The UK tax year still starts on 6 April which is 25 March + 12 days, eleven for the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar plus a dropped leap day in 1900. [But then the Inland Revenue has always been full of fools and even more unpleasant creatures who, this year, are demanding £2,500 over and above my normal 'donation' to the revenue - B******s.]

It’s traditional in many countries in the West to play tricks on people on April 1st. Sadly, neither Blogger nor the Inland Revenue are joking.

The earliest evidence of trick-playing came from France. There, the tradition is called Poisson d’Avril or April Fish, since, on that day, the French would often tape a cardboard fish onto someone’s backside or send them on a fool’s errand.

All of the above calendar information is, of course, totally irrelevant since, as we have already established, Chaucer mentioned April Fools. So you’ve just wasted five minutes but I hope you enjoyed it.

Have a nice day...


  1. Once, when I was a kid, my Mum, my sister and I decided to play an April Fool's trick on our Dad. I must mention that we were staying in an ancient farm house in France for the Easter holidays, a house where there was no hot running water and no electricity, but a kitchen stove to be fired with wood and a tiny, spider-infested outhouse in the overgrown jungle that once was a graden.
    A few nights before, one of the gas lamps in the living room had almost managed to burn the house down. And on that 1st of April, our "great idea" of a funny trick was to run out to fetch my Dad, shouting "Fire!"... I will never forget the panic on my Dad's face when he came storming into the kitchen, where the three of us were calling "April! April!" We were terribly sorry afterwards for having given our poor Dad such a scare, it was really stupid of us. Ever since then, I have disliked April Fool's Day.

  2. I'm guessing that the blogger "new look" message means that they are going to be turning off the old dashboard interface which you seem to still be using. Hopefully this means that they'll add the missing features to the new interface soon. For example, only a few weeks back the only way you could turn on/off the captchas was through the old interface.

  3. I haven't noticed what Blogger has done. Most often, upgrades do in fact include improvements, but not always. And I'm with you, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Happy April! (And I enjoyed most of what you wrote, so only 1 of 5 minutes was wasted.) jk

  4. Seems like my cable company's idea of a good April fool's joke is to shut down the internet connection every five minutes today. I'm not laughing! As for Blogger though, I have not noticed anything yet. But I'm not going to do anything daring like change any settings today!

  5. Well, I always learn something new when I come here. I did not know anything about the origins of April Fool's day. And I didn't know anything about blogger changing things. I haven't even noticed that anything is different... Ah, well, I've always lived in my own little world. Happy Sunday evening!! :) Silke

  6. I could have written Silke's comment without the final sentence. Or perhaps I do live in my own little world and just think that it's the Big Wide World.

  7. I haven't noticed anything on Blogger yet but will be on alert.


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