T42D: April Fools’ Day

4 min readApr 7, 2020
Public domain

On the first of this month it was April Fools’ Day.

April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) is celebrated every year on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools.

And the custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbour is recognised widely throughout the world. There is a possible reference in Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’, where there is an association between April 1 and foolishness.

In 1508, a French poet referred to a poisson d’avril [April fool, literally “Fish of April”], a possible reference to the holiday.

Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day is when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognise that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 (and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1) became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.

These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” [April fish], said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

In 1539, a Flemish poet wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1 and in 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference.

On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularising the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

In Florida, an atheist created a case against Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognised days. The case was brought before a judge.

After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!” The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, “Your Honour, How can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays”.

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsellor, is woefully ignorant”. The lawyer said, “Your Honour, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists”.

The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools’ Day. Psalm 14 verse 1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God’. Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court adjourned”.

We read in Luke’s gospel the parable of the rich fool. Jesus said, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” [Luke 12:16–21]

The rich man had failed to acquire the true riches of a right relationship with God and so he is described as a fool, a godless man.

So the Thought for Today is in remembering April Fools’ Day let’s not be like the rich fool who thought he had plenty of time left to enjoy the fruits of his labour, whilst ignoring the condition of his soul.

As St Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth records, “Behold, now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” [2 Cor. 6:2]

And as the writer to the Hebrews said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” [Heb. 3:7–8]