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Friday, April 1, 2011

It’s April Fools’ Day

April 1 is April Fools’ Day. People celebrate it all over the world by making practical jokes or crazy things to friends for fun’s sake. In New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool" (source: wikipedia).

Here in the Philippines, I know many people refuse to lend money on April Fools’ Day in fear that borrowers will not return it. I have no idea why people enjoy pranks, maybe because they are doing it to other people. Perhaps as long as it ends with good laughter, it is ok but when pranks cause distress already I think it is no longer healthy.

April Fools’ pranks also go around the internet. For example, during the time when the SARS virus had hit Hong Kong in 2003, a student made an April Fool joke in the internet. He copied the design of the Ming Pao newspaper website and posted that SARS had infected many Hong Kong citizens and situation had become uncontrollable. He said that government closed all immigration ports and the entire region would be under quarantine. He also announced in his prank website that Tung Chee Hwa, Chief Executive of Hong Kong had resigned. The prank had caused serious panic among Hong Kong populace. The Hong Kong government had immediately held a press conference to clarify the situation and later had charged and convicted the student in court for making that unlawful prank (source: wikipedia).

Westerners have associated April 1 with foolish acts because of several reasons. One is story in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392 where the character Chauntecleer has been tricked by a fox on a day that most readers has misinterpreted to be 32nd day of March, which falls on April 1. Scholars believe that the proper interpretation should have been 32nd day after March.  On that alone, it is already a big joke. Another is in 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene has written about a rich man who sends his servants on silly jobs on April 1.

I guess, it’s OK to be April but not a fool.

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