Friday, April 01, 2005

"Fools" ignored the new calendar

April Fool's Day Has Serious Origins

New Year or Fool' day?

I was prompted by a posting by Narayanan. He was taken for ride by a ‘April fool’s posting’ by kiruba shankar.

This made me wonder about the origins of this ‘fool’s day’ and did what all us do; went to google. The origins of April fool’s day are not clear and different sites point to different things. It is one of the most light hearted days of the year, yet has origins from a serious subject—the adoption of a new calendar by Pope Gregory.

The story goes like this..

Romans and Hindus and many ancient cultures used to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. (I know Tamils, Telugus celebrate New Year in the middle of April but not sure of April 1 as New Year.) Pope Gregory XIII enters the scene in 1582 and develops a new calendar to replace the old Julian calendar (why?). Pope Gregory moved the New Year to January 1. Even though, he was a big honcho, there weren’t many takers of this new calendar. In fact, some European countries held out for centuries (Scotland until 1660; Germany, Denmark, and Norway until 1700; and England until 1752).

However, French adopted the reformed calendar in 1564. Since there was no instant communication and internet in those days, not many people knew about the change and continue to celebrate the New Year’s Day on April 1 as they have always.

This led to reformers making fun of these traditionalists and sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false.

And thus born April Fool’s Day. So, pranks and jokes are still popular on this day— like the one kiruba played on us.