APRIL FOOLâ€™S DAY!
By Katarina Tepesh
Award winning author, Josip Novakovich, recently wrote â€œAPRIL FOOLâ€™S DAYâ€? book, a political satire and a parody of war from the former-Yugoslavia.
Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.
The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1.
However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd and rebels, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "foolâ€™s errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.
This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.
Pranks performed on April Fool's Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied!), to the elaborate. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!"
April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. Sometimes, even the government and news media gets involved.
For example, a performance artist, Joe Skaggs is responsible for several â€œnewâ€? businesses such as the Bad Guys Talent Management Agency, Brooklyn Bridge Lottery, the Hippie Bus Tour of Queens, etc. Skaggs finally received a subpoena from the Attorney General's office. At this time Skaggs had to reveal that the new business was a hoax.
Skaggs also masterminded the famous New York City 16th Annual April Fools' Day Parade along 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. The parade was supposed to be led by the Marching Los Alamos Forest Rangers, who will be back burning trash in an attempt to stave off accidental flash fires. CNN and Fox News showed up to cover the event, but of course, no one was there.
You Know What They Say About Fools...
Looking foolish does the spirit good. -- John Updike
A fool must now and then be right by chance. -- Cowper
It is better to be a fool than to be dead. -- Stevenson
The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. -- Mark Twain
Helping the Humor-Impaired
When we are caught up in the vortex of life's challenges and hardships, it's not always easy to stop and lighten up once in a while.
Remind yourself to have fun. When the going gets tough, just repeat to yourself, "It's OK to be foolish on occasion."
The Benefits of Laughter
Everyone enjoys a good hearty laugh. It makes us feel good, and that good feeling can stay with us even after the laughter subsides. Laughter helps us see that small things are not the earth-shaking events they sometimes seem to be. It enables us to look at a problem from a different point of view, make it seem less serious, and realize opportunities for increased objectivity and insight.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. It binds us together, lightens our burdens and helps us keep things in perspective. Our work, marriage and family all need humor, celebrations, play and ritual as much as record-keeping and problem-solving. We should ask the questions "Do we laugh together?" as well as "Can we get through this hardship together?" Laughter can help us see the silver lining instead of just storm clouds.
Humor unites us, especially when we laugh together. One of the things that divide humans is the energy we put into coping with life's problems or concentrating each other's limitations. Our friends and neighbors are not perfect, and neither is our marriage or family life. When we laugh together, it can bind us closer together instead of putting us in opposite camps.
Humor is an effective way to relieve stress. Laughter leads to a cathartic release of emotion, can help to release pent-up feelings of anger and frustration in a socially acceptable way, and is often followed by a state of relaxation and a feeling of reduced tension. Aside from the psychological benefits, laughter affects the body in a number of positive ways as well. Laughter releases natural chemicals in the body that create a feeling of pleasure and have a pain-relieving effect.
Laughter heals. Laughter activates the chemistry of the will to live and increases our capacity to fight disease. The chest expands when laughing, respiration increases and forces exhausted air from the lungs. Laughing relaxes the body and problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, ulcers and heart disease are sometimes, reduced.
To laugh or not to laugh is your choice.