Poisson d’Avril

What is the origin of April Fools’, I’d like to know. The internet is no help on the subject. The prevalent theory seems to be regarding the Pope’s decree to change the start of the calendar year from April to January 1st.  Yet, not even the definitive internet resource for urban legends and such things – snopes.com – wasn’t able to offer much help on the topic:

Claim:  April Fools’ Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year’s (previously celebrated on the 1st of April) on the wrong date were teased as ‘April fools.’

Status:   Undetermined.

Then there is the theory that it is somehow related to springtime, when nature fools us with unpredictable weather (which reminds me: did I mention we got a little snow yesterday?)

According to some, playing pranks on April Fools (or any day) is far from innocent fun. From one website (here):

The spirit behind April Fools’ Day is diametrically opposite to the Christian way of life. Christ not only said, “…whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire,” but He also instructed, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Christ further expounds on this principle in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This is commonly referred to as “The Golden Rule.” It sets the standard by which we are to conduct ourselves toward others—treating others the way we would want them to treat us.


4 thoughts on “Poisson d’Avril

  1. You are correct, Popadija, when you state: ” Isn’t April 1 the day recognized, or at least referenced, as the actual date of the Crucifixion? ” In the Life of St. Mary of Egypt, as written by St. Sophronius, she tells: “Abba Zosimas, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary. Return to dust that which is dust, and pray to the Lord for me, who departed in the month of Fermoutin of Egypt, called April by the Romans, on the first day, on the very night of our Lord’s passion, after having partaken of the Divine Mysteries.”

  2. I thought it was because of the Jour du Poissons, the Day of the Fish, in French. A big “joke” in France is to put a picture of a fish on someone’s back, i.e., to identify them as a Christian, or a “fool” who was sooo foolish to believe that Christ was God. Isn’t April 1 the day recognized, or at least referenced, as the actual date of the Crucifixion?

    Sorry, Romanos, I don’t agree that there is such as thing as an innocent practice of mocking God. Life actually isn’t about having fun. Or glossing over pagan practices. Black. White.

  3. The link in this post goes to an online version of “The Real Truth: A Magazine Restoring Plain Understanding,” a propaganda instrument of “The Worldwide Church of God” and David C. Pack, “Pastor General of the Restored Church of God.” The article in this zine dealing with April Fools Day, entitled “A Foolish Holiday,” is dated March 10, 2003. I copied and pasted it into MS Word to get its statistics: It contains 2,677 words (including its three word title) and is 50 paragraphs long. It concludes what it has to say with these vilifying words:

    “Obviously, April Fools’ Day pranks are not based on love toward others. Such tricks, even if innocent and physically harmless, are designed to embarrass or humiliate others. Foolishness is sin. Christians must not engage in it. They must separate themselves from all pagan customs, practices and traditions of this world—including April Fools’ Day!”

    After plowing through this blizzard of an article inflicted on us by the real world equivalent of Narnia’s White Witch, who made “always winter, but never Christmas” I am reminded of what the Word of God has to say about false prophets:

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:15-23)

    And it is too long to quote in a comment, but the very attitudes demonstrated in this lengthy article remind me of what the holy apostle Peter writes in the second chapter of his second epistle, beginning with, “As there were false prophets in the history of our people, so you too weill have your false teachers, who will insinuate their own disruptive views…” (see 2 Peter 2:1-22)

    In my blog as well as my daily life, I usually witness only for the Truth, and by that I mean, for Jesus Christ, who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life,’ and I hardly ever make mention of the enemies of the Truth. That’s because I believe that Christ is so great a Light that there is no need for me to sweep away falsehood: like one’s own shadow, it vanishes when the sun is shining brightly straight overhead. Also, when it comes to the Church, because I believe that it is One, I take little notice of denominations, but welcome and affirm all confessors of Jesus Christ, and do whatever I can to strengthen and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. But the effrontery and divisive, I should say, diabolic, spirit of groups like the one that produces “The Real Truth” magazine is no mere April Fool’s joke. It has intentions, it has effects, it has repercussions, it has consequences.

    Jesus says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42).

    Rather than fussing over whether people are observing innocent—yes, innocent—pastimes and ‘pagan’ holidays like April Fools, Halloween, and—yes, it gets even more stupid—even Christmas, this brood of vipers should look to themselves, and check to see if their millstone straps are on comfortably enough for them, since where they’re going, they’ll have no cause to shout warnings to us about pagan holidays.

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