Around The Globe
By Joanna Sufin
In some countries people believe that April Fool's Day, just as
St. Valentine's day, is derived from American culture. Although
the origins of this day are not certain and there are many speculations
as to where the practice of hoaxing people started, one thing is
sure - April Fool's Day was not born of American tradition but was
brought here by immigrants from Europe.
The most widely spread tale of the origins of April Fool's Day
goes back to King Charles IX of France who in mid 16th century adopted
the Gregorian Calendar and officially moved the New Year's celebrations
from April to January. Those who refused to abide by the new calendar
and still observed April 1 were called fools.
However, the fact that in some countries today April Fool's day
is called "Prima Aprilis" indicates that the roots of
this tradition may go back further in time than 1564. Some believe
that April Fools' Day originated in ancient Rome where the Christians
in the Roman empire ridiculed Pagans who would not let go of their
beliefs and observed the first day of spring.
"Prima Aprilis" for example is very popular in Poland.
Many children come to school that day disguised as cartoon characters
and often times they are allowed to teach classes. Some wait the
entire year to humorously avenge themselves on a harsh grading teacher.
But even the slick kids are often "victims" of April Fool's
Day jokes made by adults.
Michal Michniadowicz, a customer service representative at a credit
union who is originally from Poland recalls some of the Prima Aprilis
memories. As a child he would go to the movies with his grandfather
and watch cartoons every Sunday.
"At one time when I was a little boy, my mom woke me up saying
that dwarves came over our house and hid themselves under the kitchen
sink. As a child I believed in all the fairy tales that I saw in
the movies, so I got up all excited and I ran to the kitchen. I
was very disappointed when I found out there were no dwarves under
April Fool's Day is also popular among children in France, who
stick small posters of fish onto the backs of their peers and shout
"Poisson d'Avril" (April Fish) whenever someone discovers
April 1 is also celebrated in some countries in the Caribbean,
including Jamaica and Guyana where people make fun of each other
saying not very realistic yet fairly believable stories. Eslin Abrams,
a college student from Guyana who immigrated to the United States
five years ago likes April Fool's Day because it's a day of laughter.
What she doesn't like about this day is that it happens to be her
"People often joke and say they can tell when my birthday
is by the way I act," says Abrams. "And I always ask my
mom 'couldn't you hold me for one more day?'"
Lakshami Kavunsal, a Hindu woman who sells handcrafted gifts at
Grand Central loves clever hoaxes even when she is the victim.
"I remember a few years ago my daughter called me from India
and said that she just got married," said Kavunsal. "I
was shocked. My heart almost stopped, because in India parents are
the ones who arrange marriages."
In Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico
and Peru April Fool's Day is celebrated in a similar way as in the
United States but on a different date. Originally the day was supposed
to commemorate the slaughter of children by King Herod after the
birth of Jesus, but over the time the holiday became less serious
and took on a much lighter tone
"We call it Dia de los Inocentes which means Day of the Innocent.
People make jokes. And they have a lot of fun," says Angie
Gaviria originally from Colombia. "But I don't like that day
too much. I am not a funny person."
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