Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fool's Errands

Ever wonder how the tradition of April Fool's Day began? LiveScience did:
Though pranksters and joke-lovers in many countries now gleefully prepare to dupe friends and loved ones on April Fool's Day, no one knows exactly when or why, or even where, this tradition began.

A giddy spurt of practical joking seems to have coincided with the coming of spring since the time of the Ancient Romans and Celts, who celebrated a festival of mischief-making. The first mentions of an All Fool's Day (as it was formerly called) came in Europe in the Middle Ages.
The most widespread theory of the origin of April Fool's Day is the switch from the old Julian to the Gregorian calendar (now in use) in the late 16th century. Under the Julian calendar, the New Year was celebrated during the week between March 25 and April 1, but under the Gregorian calendar, it was moved to Jan. 1. Those who were not notified of the change, or stubbornly kept to the old tradition, were often mocked and had jokes played on them on or around the old New Year.
Some of us have our own April Fool's traditions. Over at WhatTheyThink, Dr. Joe and I whipped up a bunch of Onion-like stories related to the graphic communications industry. My contributions involved Facebook declaring itself a sovereign nation and Twitter being replaced by a nanoblogging site that limits posts to a single character. Dr. Joe announces a new dating service for printers as well as the fact that press manufacturers were acquired by Russian and Middle East soverign funds. Over at PrintCEO blog, I talk about how the Graphic Arts Society of Printers (GASP) adopts a new logo imbued with magic powers.

We're not the only ones. Each year, Google send out a faux announcement. This year, they "announce" some smart new tools in Gmail. I personally like the "manage relationships" feature. (A comprehensive archive of Google's past April Fool's announcements can be found--where else?--at Wikipedia.)

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