April 01, 2022
When I was growing up my father had a long-standing joke that seemed to work every year. We would be seated at the breakfast table and dad would look outside and say, “Look at that big brown dog in our yard!” My brother and I would run to the window to see the dog, and then my father would shout, “April Fools!” As we got older the joke changed. This was not because we caught on, but because we owned a big brown boxer dog named Lucky. The joke became, “Look at that big black dog in our yard!” It still worked into our Jr. High years. I think this was the only joke my father could remember the punch line for.
When I looked online, I found April Fools Day, or April Fool’s Day, is an annual custom on 1 April consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. The jokester will often expose their actions by shouting “April Fools!” at the recipient. Mass media can be involved in these pranks, which may be revealed as a prank the following day. April 1 is not a public holiday in any country except Cyprus, where it is a national holiday (not April Fools’ Day but instead “Cyprus National Day”) and Odessa, Ukraine where the first of April is an official city holiday. A disputed association between 1 April and foolishness is in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392). In the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, a vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox on “Since March began thirty days and two”, or 32 days since March began, which is 1 April. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the celebration as “Fooles holy day”, which is the first British reference. On 1 April 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.
Although no biblical scholar mentions a relationship, some expressed the belief that the origins of April Fools’ Day go back to the Genesis flood narrative. The London Public Advertiser of March 13, 1769, printed: “The mistake of Noah sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of April, and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the patriarch”. Then in a 1908 edition of the Harper’s Weekly cartoonist Bertha R. McDonald wrote: “Authorities gravely back with it to the time of Noah and the ark.” It seems the origin of the day is just as obtuse as the tricks that are played.
THOUGHTS: One of my best April Fools jokes happened when I was working for the State of Utah. I sent a memo to my boss outlining an illegal action taken by one of the companies we were having trouble with. He read the beginning of the memo and stormed into his boss’s office to declare the atrocity. His boss took the time to finish the memo, and the last line read, “April Fools!” While this was a memorable prank, my boss failed to see the humor. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.
btw: Did you happen to see the big black dog that was in your yard today?