In some places still, there may be people unwittingly celebrating the start of the medieval year right now – and giving each other chocolate fish. Perhaps in France, where they would be commemorating the change in the start of the year to January 1st, as decreed by King Charles IX. Presumably.
However perhaps they would truly be the April fools if, on the other hand, the origin of celebrations of foolishness on this day originate from the Nun’s Priest’s Tale, as told thus in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, about a sly fox and a foolish cock:
When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two
The simple fact is that both (and more) are probably true for why celebrating silliness is acceptable on April 1st, irrespective of whether it is the case of the medieval clocks being put back 3 months, the madness of the people of legendary Gotham saving their main road from being made public or a more obscure reference like the one above. Check out: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/Hoaxipedia/April_Fools_Day_-_Origin/ for a good range of theories, any one of which could be an April Fool’s joke on the origin of April 1st for fooling (but then perhaps check after midday to see if the site is still up there, or if this link works).
What I love about travel is that you get to discover new theories about such things, regardless of whether they matter or not, and they give you a good tale to tell. It might be on the value of fooling and what you can gain and learn from fooling about (or being fooled) that you might not if things are taken too seriously. Above all, it is great (these days) if you can learn something new that you won’t find on the Internet (and not as I have done here), or necessarily in books. So a big part of the fun of travel for me is not just in exploring new places, but in discovery.
More fool anyone, though, for being bothered about who owns the rights to celebrating fooling and being fooled. Frankly, my money is on the English for setting aside April 1st for fooling – but maybe it’s because I have been a Monty Python fan from way back when.
I am also a big fan of that episode of Blackadder too. You know, the one set in the trenches in World War One where Cap’n Blackadder sticks a hankerchief on his head and two pencils up his nose and goes “Wibble”. Just to see if he can get out of “going over the top” – as, in climb out of the trenches and charge straight towards a barrage of enemy machine guns! What could be more foolish? Oh, yeah, the sequel – World War Two, that is! Sadly, I think that was the last series of Blackadder though…
So, may the farce be with you today – but don’t go over the top!