Calling all fools for a non-holiday event

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

A non-holiday is almost here. You don't buy gifts to celebrate. Nor do you get a day off from work or school.

Only humans could come up with a day to celebrate foolishness, and it is set for Tuesday. I noticed it on the calendar and wondered who in the world came up with April Fool's Day. So I did a bit of internet research and learned there really wasn't a first April Fool's Day, or "All Fool's Day" as it is also called.

Apparently it originated in France, or at least that is the closest folks can come to identifying where it started. (I won't make any cracks about France being the country to come up with a celebration of foolishness because there have been enough French jokes lately.)

The story is that prior to 1582, eight days, beginning on March 25 and ending on April 1, were a celebration of the new year. With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Day moved to January 1.

However, some of the more obstinate French people refused to accept the change. (Imagine the French being obstinate - OK, that was a little crack). These people got the label of "fools" from their fellow citizens.

They became the butt of practical jokes and this eventually evolved into a tradition. Again, only humans could make a tradition out of practical jokes.

Other countries started their own fool's day celebrations. In Scotland, for example, there is a two-day celebration of April Fool's Day. The second day, "Taily Day," is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. The "kick me" sign comes from this observance. Now isn't that something of which a country can be proud?

In England, morning is the only time for tricks, and in Portugal, April Fool's Days are celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before Lent. The tradition there is to throw flour at your friends. I guess Scotland had already taken the posterior pranks thing when Portugal was looking for its own tradition.

The English brought the observance to the United States where I am sure, given the ingenuity of Americans; it has risen to heights never imagined anywhere else in the world.

While April Fool's Day is one heck of a non-holiday, if it is not your cup of tea, there are some other memorable days coming up.

First of all, the entire month of April is National Humor Month. It is also National Kite Month, which seems odd since March is supposed to be the windy month.

One of my personal favorites is April 7, "National Workplace Napping Day." Then on April 12 comes "Walk on the Wild Side Day" when you are encouraged to do something no one would expect you to do - like napping on the job.

Then to round out the month is National Karaoke Week from April 20 through 26. That is one I'll be skipping this year.

While I was investigating all these wonderful non-holidays, I stumbled upon one that may become my favorite. Yesterday, March 26, was Create Your Own Holiday Day.

So far, I have observed "National Get a Haircut Day," the weekly observance of "Write a Column Day" and the ever popular "Vacuum the Living Room" celebration.

Yet to come today is the "Unload the Dishwasher" holiday followed by "Wash and Fold the Towels Day."

Come to think of it, I just might move that nap day thing up a week or two and celebrate it for the rest of the afternoon.