Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day

Ha ha! Today is April fool’s Day. I was awoken by my son jumping into bed next to me & giving me a gentle kick & a punch, “because it’s the 1st of the month.”

From this point on, my somnolent morning routine descended into a comic strip farce. My 8 y-o loves the Beano & finds the (same old) pranks (coin glued to floor, jam on door handle, squirting door bell etc) hysterically funny. He has a treasure box filled with snapping chewing gum, plastic flies, fake blood, cockroaches etc & he draws them all into service on April Fool’s Day.

I tried to carry on much as normal, ignoring the ‘japes’ going on around me courtesy of my own Dennis the Menace & Mini Minnie the Minx.

So anyway we had yoghurt on my son’s toothbrush, my son stuck a plastic fly inside my husband’s tube of toothpaste, he then swapped all the cereals round into different boxes. Cornflakes in the muesli box etc. And also added more plastic flies in the boxes. My husband had planned a far more dastardly breakfast trick though. He had put salt in my son’s orange juice. Suddenly 8 y-o not so amused.

My husband, undaunted by this set-back, then padlocked the zips of our 8 y-o’s school bag together having 1st filled it to the brim with the poor boy’s underpants, enough to maintain the modesty of his entire class & a few spare.

He also filled his trainers with flour.

Our 4 y-o not to be outdone, wandered around putting ‘fly in ice’ cubes in our juice, in full view of us, & has taken some of her brother’s snapping chewing gum, to school to try out on one of the boys in her class.

Thankfully then it was time to go to school. I had my brief moment of being 'Cool mummy' who actually had thought of a joke & performed it, when I (completely inadvertently) played my own 'prank'. A navy estate car pulled up behind us & I, thinking it was the parent giving him a ride, said “your lift’s here."“ My son got out, tapped on the window & went to open the back door of the car, only to discover it was a complete stranger he was trying to hop a ride in. Oops. Not so funny. He enjoyed it though......

What is it about boys (& men ) that love practical jokes?? It was the same last year. I just don’t think of these ideas. My husband is full of them though. It’s the same with telling jokes I’m afraid. I fulfil all the gender stereotypes on that one.

I tried to find out the origins of April Fool’s Day & how widespread it is. For my son in an international school, it could seriously back fire. I was glad to discover it is widespread in Europe. Not sure about America & Korea, the 2 main other nationalities in my son’s school. My son has a few silly errands he’s going to get his schoolmates to do, nothing too heinous.

Anyway I have discovered that the origins are pretty obscure but it seems to have coincided with the coming of spring since the time of the Ancient Romans and Celts, who celebrated a festival of mischief making. The first mentions of an All Fool's Day (as it was formerly called) came in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The most widespread theory of the origin of April Fool's Day is the switch from the old Julian to the Gregorian calendar (now in use) in the late 16th century. Under the Julian calendar, the New Year was celebrated during the week between March 25 and April 1, but under the Gregorian calendar, it was moved to Jan. 1. Those who kept to the old tradition, were often mocked and had jokes played on them on or around the old New Year.

In France, this took the form of pranksters sticking fish on the backs of those who celebrated the old custom, earning the victims of the prank the name Poisson d'Avril, or April Fish. (No I don’t understand that either…)

But the theory can't explain why the pranking tradition spread to other countries in Europe that did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until later.

My husband and I were talking about how our parents on April Fool's Day would always reminisce about ‘The Spaghetti Tree’ Hoax. Just shows how times have changed. This was in 1957 when pasta was an exotic unknown. The BBC did a documentary about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, and the phones were jammed with people asking where they could buy such a bush. I hadn't realised quite how effective a hoax it had been till I looked it up online.

We always check online for the BBC’s April fool hoax story. I quite like trying to work it out. My husband suggested this story about a naked pole-vaulter in Paris. Perhaps Paris girl can tell us if she saw him? But I noticed it had been posted on 31st March.

Personally I think it might be this one I mean can pythons really eat alligators? And Python Patrols?

I guess it just goes to show how bizarre many things in the world are. What do you think?

If you’re interested, this site lists the top 100 April fool’s of all time. I liked the one about Nixon re-running for president.

But check out these top 10 worst April Fool's of all time. Here.

Actually quite awful to read. Can you believe Saddam & his brother Uday told people that America was lifting sanctions against Iraq, only to then say it was an April Fool’s joke, OR to say they were increasing food rations to include bananas, chocolate & pepsi. How NOT funny is that? And what a sick joke to play on your people, but I guess, when it comes to cruelty, they were the meisters. Evidently they ran out of ideas pretty quickly and kept repeating these same two jokes on April Fool’s Day. I guess humour wasn’t really their strong point.

Then there’s the Romanian one about how these families’ prisoners wd be released, only to be told, having travelled all the way there, that it was a hoax.

We have our own little April Fool in Albania this year. As of yesterday huge banners have been going up everywhere saying “Shqiperia ne Nato” Albania in Nato.

Despite their huge cache of unexploded, un-decommissioned explosives, despite women & children working in munitions dumps doing this 'decommissioning', despite a huge explosion in Gedercs last March in one of these decommissioning factories, which was right next to several villages, killing & maiming quite a few people, despite being one of the most corrupt countries in eastern Europe, Albania is deemed ready to join Nato….. Now that is a joke.