This morning I got an email about the new Kindle Zero. It said Amazon would be announcing it today and it would be free. Better still, it would pay you to read difficult books. Too good to be true? Of course it is. It’s April Fool’s Day.
I’ve never been a big fan of April Fool’s Day. Most of it is relatively harmless, but sometimes the jokes get pretty mean-spirited, all in the “tradition” of having fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in laughing at myself. I believe if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not allowed to laugh at anyone else.
This all got me wondering, though, where the idea of practical joking on April 1 came from? Like a lot of things, the history behind it is somewhat unclear; it may go all the way back to the middle ages. The first reference connecting April 1 and “jokes” is from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, published in 1392. Another possible reason for the day is when Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar to replace the older Julian calendar in 1582. With that calendar, he moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. The idea is it took time for the word to spread and people who believed New Year’s Day was still on April 1 became the butt of various jokes and pranks. That doesn’t account for earlier references to it, like Chaucer’s, or the fact that England didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar for almost 200 years, but the tradition of April Fools was fully entrenched there long before that.
Regardless, practical joking and pranks have long been associated with April 1 and people who have fallen for jokes are called April Fools or sometimes April Fish…young fish are supposedly gullible and easily caught. I have to admit I’ve never called anyone an April Fish before.
The best jokes, of course, are the ones that have some semblance of truth to them. When it is so outrageous that it isn’t believable, well, no one will ever believe it. Today, stories are published daily on the internet that aren’t true. In spite of websites dedicated to debunking urban myths, we seem to fall for them over and over. Did you hear the one about….? It’s not true. I guess April Fool’s Day has expanded to 365 days a year.
Unfortunately, this will be my last blog post for a while. I just got a call that one of my books has been selected for the New York Times Bestseller list and now I have to go on a book promotional tour. And I need to figure out what I can give people to read my books when they get their Kindle Zeros. I heard one author was giving away a car…
Happy April Fool’s Day!