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1/25
An April Fool’s Day Article About Its History


By Bobby M. Reyes

{xtypo_quote} The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year—American humorist Mark Twain {/xtypo_quote} 

T his article was first published in the then www.yimby.com on April 1, 1999, some some 10 weeks after my father, Dominador S. Reyes, died. He would have been 90-years old on that day.  I had a hard time looking for it in my old laptop computer, as I also mislabeled it. But today, in the wee hours of April 4, 2009, I found it. So, here is that story about the supposedly favorite day of Mark Twain. April Fools' Day is also my family’s way of remembering our patriarch, Dominador, as you can read at the bottom part of this article.           

PART
ONE. The origin of April Fools' Day seems to be a bit of a mystery. The online edition of Encyclopedia Britannica states "that although it has been observed for centuries in several countries, the origin of the custom is unknown. It resembles other festivals, such as the Hilaria of ancient Rome (March 25) and the Holi festival of India (ending March 31). Its timing seems related to the vernal equinox (March 21), when nature "fools" mankind with sudden changes in the weather."            

While the explanation seemed plausible, it is be a bit dull. Continuing the search resulted in a most interesting and/or convincing explanation at www.about.com

And more sites are found in this address: http://search.about.com/fullsearch.htm?terms=april+and+fool&PM=59_0100_S&Action.x=10&Action.y=9                         

* Here's the article in its entirety:     
                     

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new and improved calendar for the Christian world, and in this calendar (now called the "Gregorian Calendar") the beginning of the New Year was changed and was now declared to fall on January 1. Ten days were deleted from the calendar, so that
Oct. 4, 1582, was followed by Oct. 15, 1582. This change caused the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring) of 1583, and all-subsequent years, to occur about March 21. Some years, such as the year 2000, the first day of Spring occurs on March 20.                       

A
French Connection.                 


The story goes that when the Gregorian calendar was later adopted in
France, King Charles IX declared to his subjects that New Year's Day celebrations must be moved to January 1. When that happened, there were some folks who apparently either hadn't heard word of the calendar change or who had decided to stubbornly "stick to their guns" and defy the king's edict - and, thus, they continued celebrating New Year's Day on April 1. These people, continuing to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1, were given the moniker of being "April fools." The Western world tradition of sending folks out on a "fool's errand" then began with a vengeance.


Today, in
France, April 1 is called "Poisson d'Avril."  The tradition is that French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "April fool" discovers this trick, the trickster yells "Poisson d'Avril!" (meaning: April Fish!) The origin of the "fish tradition" is considered to be unknown.              

On April Fools' Day all people are given an excuse to play the fool. In
France the fooled person is called poisson d'avril ("April fish"), but the origin of the name is unknown. In April the cuckoo, emblem of simpletons, comes, so in Scotland the victim is called gowk (cuckoo). The custom of playing April Fools' jokes was brought to America by the British. It has continued to be observed by children and adults and sometimes involves rather elaborate hoaxes as well as merely simple jokes."                    

Below is a poem that aptly relates the ambiguity (and the non-origin?) of the day.  Perhaps we're simply supposed to have fun with it. So enjoy!          


The first of April, some do say,                           
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.                                    
But why the people call it so,                            
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.                          
But on this day are people sent                      
On purpose for pure merriment.                            
-- Poor Robin's Almanac (1790).
           

SECOND PART. April Fools' Day and its History in the Philippines              

By Roberto Reyes Mercado, chairman of the Yimby Board of Editors, and charter member of the Philippine History Group of
Los Angeles.                    

A ccording to some anecdotal sources, the British introduced April Fools' Day to the Filipinos between 1762-1764. This was during the British invasion of the
Philippines when British forces backed up by Indian (Sepoy) troops occupied the then Spanish citadel of Manila and the surrounding areas. Perhaps the Indian (Sepoy) troops introduced too the Holi festival of India (ending March 31) to the Filipino subjects.                                

French soldiers who landed in the
Philippines in support of the Spanish crown sometime in 1763-1764 probably introduced also their version of the "Poisson d'Avril" to their Spanish allies and Filipino comrades-in-arm.                     

Filipinos at the end of the 19th century probably were experts in the April Fool's Day practices when the Americans arrived at the height of the Spanish-American War of 1898. After the Spaniards surrendered the islands to the
United States, the Americans fought a war with the Army of the First Philippine Republic in 1899.                           

TheAmerican forces captured the Filipino commander-in-chief, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on March 23, 1901. General Aguinaldo was also the Filipino President and his capture practically ended the Christian Filipino-American War. The Americans offered General (President) Aguinaldo amnesty and a chance for him and his soldiers not to go to prison if they were to accept sovereignty of the United States. General Aguinaldo accepted the American offer and he chose to issue on April 1, 1901, a proclamation accepting American sovereignty. The proclamation ordered the Filipino Army to lay down its arms. If only the Americans realized that the Filipinos knew even at that time what April Fool's Day was, perhaps they could have asked General Aguinaldo to postpone the issuance of the proclamation of formal surrender by one day.                             

The Christian Filipino-American War continued for more than a year probably because the Filipino soldiers and their generals thought that General Aguinaldo's proclamation was just an April Fool's gig.                                  

And the Muslim Filipinos continued their war against the new American colonizers for several decades more, as they too thought that Aguinaldo was just kidding on April 1, 1901.                                       

Filipinos actually celebrate also an equivalent of April Fool's Day on December 28th of every year. This is known as the Niños Inocentes (Holy Innocents') Day, which is time dedicated also to practical jokes, pranks and hoaxes. Nobody knows when the Spanish colonial masters introduced Niños Inocentes Day to the country but the tradition went on even if the
United States took over the archipelago. The Americans of course introduced to its new colony its Hollywood-style April Fool's Day sometime in the early 1900s. So, thanks to Spain, England, France and the United States, Filipinos and Overseas Filipinos are perhaps the only people in the world that celebrate two April Fool's Days every year.           

According to my father, Dominador S. Reyes (1909-1999), his American Thomasite teachers at the Sorsogon Provincial (now National) High School used to get a big kick out of April Fools' Day. For my father was born on April 1, 1909, and he was of course the beneficiary of practical jokes by his American teachers and later, by his siblings during his birthday. I was this tall when my uncle, Pedro S. Reyes (1905-1965), who had the best sense of humor in the Reyes Clan, introduced me to the American practice of April Fools' Day. Uncle Pete, who was a lawyer and a certified public accountant, played a practical joke during one of my father's birthday celebrations sometime in the 1950s.   
                    

H ere in the Yimby.com April Fools' Day gets celebrated with a lampoon issue. (Perhaps we do the lampoon issue because there is a little in me of Uncle Pete's practical jokes and of my father's - and his siblings' - wit and humor.) In fact the Yimby.com editors come up with a lampoon issue every December 28th for the past two years. Please go to the Yimby Archives and just click on the past three lampoon issues of this online magazine.   


Happy reading. And we hope that this 4th lampoon issue of the Yimby.com will elicit a thousand laughs in you and perhaps tickle the funny bones of our hundreds, if not thousands, of readers.                
 

Cheers!               

 

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