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The Interesting Lore of April Fools’ Day

The first of April is a special day, on which practical jokes may be played without punishment. The origin of the custom is uncertain, but it seems to have come about in France as a result of change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

In sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April first. It was celebrated in much the same way as it is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night. Then in 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first. There were some people, however, who hadn’t heard or didn’t believe the change in the date, so they continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April first. Others played tricks on them and called them “April Fools.” They sent them on a “fool’s errand” or tried to make them believe that something false was true.

In France today, children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ hacks. When the “young fool” discovers this trick, the prankster yells “April Fish!” Today Americans play small tricks on friends and strangers alike on the same day. One common trick is pointing down to a friend’s shoe and saying, “Your shoelace is untied!” Teachers in the nineteenth century used to say to pupils, “Look! A flock of geese!” and point up. School children might tell a classmate that school has been canceled. Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, “April Fool!”

The “fool’s errands” we play on people are practical jokes. Filling the sugar bowl with salt stuffing a biscuit with cotton and offering an empty egg shell at breakfast, are good old tricks. Some practical jokes are kept up the whole day before the victim realizes what day it is. Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The most clever April Fool joke is the one where everyone laughs, especially the person upon whom the joke is played.

There are also April Fool letters. They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love. The letters are never signed, hut girls, apparently, make a game of trying to guess who send them. To receive an April Fool letter during April, for it can be sent anytime during the month, is deemed a most flattering honor and the contents are shared among envious acquaintances.

April Fool tricks are not, it seems, confined to children. People play tricks in the office. Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks. The story of a salesman in Rhode Island is said to be the worst trick on April Fools’ Day. He had been fooling around with a secretary. He was married and everyone in the office knew about it. The girl was a bit crazy, a real screwball, and one of the other salesmen persuaded her to tell her boy friend she was pregnant as an April Fool joke. She went in his office and left the door open so everyone could hear her. Her words did make hint a little crazy. He thought it was a big joke. Maybe he was happy it was an April Fool joke. But he just laughed and kept right on going around with her.

Words and Expressions

  1. lore (n): knowledge trained through tradition or anecdote ⇒ ” The interesting Lore of April Fool’s Day”
  2. April Fools’ Day: the day which people use to trick others ⇒ ” The interesting Lore of April Fool’s Day
  3. practical (adj): concerned with actual use or practice ⇒ ” The first of April is a special day, on which practical jokes may be played without punishment.”
  4. punishment (n): the act of punishing ⇒ ” The first of April is a special day, on which practical jokes may be played without punishment.”
  5. origin (n): the place where something begins, where it springs onto being ⇒ ” The origin of the custom is uncertain, but it seems to have come about in France as a result of change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.”
  6. custom (n): a specific practice of long standing ⇒ ” The origin of the custom is uncertain, but it seems to have come about in France as a result of change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.”
  7. come about (v): come to pass ⇒ ” The origin of the custom is uncertain, but it seems to have come about in France as a result of change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.”
  8. Gregorian calendar: the calendar of the Gregorian ⇒ ” The origin of the custom is uncertain, but it seems to have come about in France as a result of change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582.”
  9. observe (v): discover the existence or fact of something ⇒ ” In sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April first.”
  10. celebrate (v): behave as expected during of holidays or rites ⇒ ” It was celebrated in much the same way as it is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night.”
  11. Pope Gregory: a man who introduced a new calendar for the Christian world ⇒ ” Then in 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first.”
  12. Christian (adj): following the teachings or manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus Christ ⇒ ” Then in 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first.”
  13. fall on: come off ⇒ ” Then in 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first.”
  14. trick (n): a cunning action or device ⇒ ” Others played tricks on them and called them “April Fools.””
  15. play tricks on: do an untrue action to make people believe ⇒ ” Others played tricks on them and called them “April Fools.””
  16. errand (n): a short trip that is taken in the performance of a necessary task or mission ⇒ ” They sent them on a “fool’s errand” or tried to make them believe that something false was true.”
  17. fool (v): indulge in horseplay ⇒ ” They sent them on a “fool‘s errand” or tried to make them believe that something false was true.”
  18. tape (v): fasten or attach with tape ⇒ ” In France today, children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ hacks.”
  19. prankster (n): someone who plays practical jokes on others ⇒ ” When the “young fool” discovers this trick, the prankster yells “April Fish!”.
  20. shoelace (n): a lace used for fastening shoes ⇒ ” One common trick is pointing down to a friend’s shoe and saying, “Your shoelace is untied!”.
  21. untie (v): cause to become loose ⇒ ” One common trick is pointing down to a friend’s shoe and saying, “Your shoelace is untied!”.
  22. flock (n): a group of birds ⇒ ” Teachers in the nineteenth century used to say to pupils, “Look! A flock of geese!” and point up.”
  23. geese (n) – goose: web – footed, long – necked typically gregarious migratory aquatic birds, usually larger and less aquatic than ducks ⇒ ” Teachers in the nineteenth century used to say to pupils, “Look! A flock of geese!” and point up.”
  24. cancel (v): remove or make invisible ⇒ ” School children might tell a classmate that school has been canceled.”
  25. innocent (adj): free from evil or guilt ⇒ ” Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, “April Fool!”.
  26. victim (n): an uncomfortable person who suffers from some adverse circumstances ⇒ ” Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, “April Fool!”.
  27. fall for (v): be entrapped by ⇒ ” Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, “April Fool!”.
  28. stuff (v): miscellaneous unspecified objects ⇒” Filling the sugar bowl with salt stuffing a biscuit with cotton and offering an empty egg shell at breakfast, are good old tricks.”
  29. keep up (v): maintain a required pace or level ⇒ ” Some practical jokes are kept up the whole day before the victim realizes what day it is.”
  30. in (good) fun: in a funny way ⇒ ” Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone.”
  31. mean (v): have a logical consequence ⇒ ” Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone.”
  32. composite (n): a conceptual whole made up of complicated and related parts ⇒ ” They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love.”
  33. prankishness (n): the trait of indulging in disreputable pranks ⇒ ” They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love.”
  34. deception (n): the act of deceiving ⇒ ” They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love.”
  35. absurdity (n): a message whose content is at variance with reason ⇒ ” They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love.”
  36. folk verse (n): a traditional piece of poetry ⇒ ” They are composites of prankishness, deception, absurdity, folk verses, and love.”
  37. make a game of: create a game of something ⇒ ” The letters are never signed, hut girls, apparently, make a game of trying to guess who send them.”
  38. deem (v): keep in mind or convey as a conviction or view ⇒ ” To receive an April Fool letter during April, for it can be sent anytime during the month, is deemed a most flattering honor and the contents are shared among envious acquaintances.”
  39. flattering (adj): showing or representing to advantage ⇒ ” To receive an April Fool letter during April, for it can be sent anytime during the month, is deemed a most flattering honor and the contents are shared among envious acquaintances.”
  40. envious (adj): showing extreme cupidity, painfully desirous  of another’s advantages ⇒ ” To receive an April Fool letter during April, for it can be sent anytime during the month, is deemed a most flattering honor and the contents are shared among envious acquaintances.”
  41. acquaintance (n): a person with whom you are acquainted ⇒ ” To receive an April Fool letter during April, for it can be sent anytime during the month, is deemed a most flattering honor and the contents are shared among envious acquaintances.”
  42. confine (v): prevent from leaving or from being removed ⇒ ” April Fool tricks are not, it seems, confined to children.”
  43. fake (v): make a copy of with the intent to deceive ⇒ ” Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks.”
  44. issue (v): an important question that is in dispute and must be settled ⇒ ” Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks.”
  45. nonexistent (adj): not having existence or being or actually ⇒ ” Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks.”
  46. scare (n): a sudden attack of fear ⇒ ” Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks.”
  47. elaborate (adj): developed or executed with care and in minute detail ⇒ ” Faking phone calls, issuing tickets for nonexistent panics, and creating bomb scares are all elaborate pranks.”
  48. Rhode Island: a famous island ⇒ ” The story of a salesman in Rhode Island is said to be the worst trick on April Fools’ Day.”
  49. fool around (v): indulge in horseplay ⇒ ” He had been fooling around with a secretary.”
  50. crazy (adj): affected with madness or insanity ⇒ ” The girl was a bit crazy, a real screwball, and one of the other salesmen persuaded her to tell her boy friend she was pregnant as an April Fool joke.”
  51. screwball (n): a pitch with reserve spin that curves toward the side of the plate from which it was thrown ⇒ ” The girl was a bit crazy, a real screwball, and one of the other salesmen persuaded her to tell her boy friend she was pregnant as an April Fool joke.”
  52. persuade (v): cause somebody to adopt a certain position, belief or course of action ⇒ ” The girl was a bit crazy, a real screwball, and one of the other salesmen persuaded her to tell her boy friend she was pregnant as an April Fool joke.”
  53. pregnant (adj): carrying developing offspring within the body or being about to produce new life ⇒ ” The girl was a bit crazy, a real screwball, and one of the other salesmen persuaded her to tell her boy friend she was pregnant as an April Fool joke.”
  54. keep on (v): allow to remain in a place or position or maintain a property  or feature ⇒ ” But he just laughed and kept right on going around with her.”
  55. right (adv): exactly ⇒ ” But he just laughed and kept right on going around with her.”
  56. go around (v): become widely known and passed on ⇒ ” But he just laughed and kept right on going around with her.”

Exercises

Fill in each blank with the appropriate word, making changes where necessary: observe, custom, trick, practical, innocent, cancel, deception, stuff, mean, absurd

1. Earning a living is a ………………… matter.

2. When visaing a foreign country, we must respect the country’s …………………

3. The student organization is effective in ensuring that the students ………………… school regulations.

4. He got the money by a ………………….

5. She ………………… her trip to New York as she felt ill.

6. They hanged an …………………. man.

7. He …………………. the shoe with newspapers.

8. I’m sorry, I didn’t ……………………. to imply that you were dishonest.

9. The ………………….. of the salesman turned out to be disastrous.

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