Thank You, Pontiff!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Thank You, Pontiff!

Ever wonder about the origins of April Fool's Day?

Yeah, me neither.

But it turns out it has to do with a Pope from long ago, a few centuries before God gave birth to America. Apparently there was this Pope who liked to play tricks on people...

No, wait, that's not quite it. But it does have something to do with the French, some fish and "Old Europe." See if you believe this:
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. Many countries, however, resisted the change. In fact, some European countries held out for centuries (Scotland until 1660; Germany, Denmark, and Norway until 1700; and England until 1752).

In 1564 France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. However, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day April 1.

Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false.

The French came to call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.

In 1752, Great Britain finally changed over to the Gregorian Calendar, and April Fool's Day began to be celebrated in England and in the American colonies.
So, April Fish everybody!

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