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mercredi 31 mars 2010

April Fool’s Day – The Day of Pranks and High Spirits (English)

Le présent message a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie.

In many countries and cultures, April 1 is unofficially celebrated as a day of jest. In the English-speaking world it is known as April Fools' Day (or All Fools' Day). Its origins are disputed. According to one theory, April 1 signifies the change of the seasons; according to another, it celebrates the adoption of a new calendar.

Certain ancient cultures, such as those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on April 1 or close to that date. It comes soon after the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, was celebrated in many countries as the beginning of the New Year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Julian calendar to be replaced by the Gregorian Calendar, under which New Year's Day was to be celebrated on January 1.

In that same year, France adopted the Gregorian calendar and made January 1 New Year's day. According to some sources, some people declined to accept the new date and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1, while others reacted by sending the conservatives on "fool's errands" or by playing other tricks on them. This practice became popular throughout Europe.

But certain facts contradict that theory. In England, for example, the Gregorian calendar was not adopted before 1752. April Fools' Day, on the other hand, was already well established there before that date.

Another theory used at one point in time to explain April Fool’s Day was that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters persuaded the Emperor to allow a court jester named Kugel to be king for one day. It was Kugel who proclaimed the Holiday, according to this theory.

In 1983 Associated Press published an article in support of this theory, relying for its source on an American professor. Many newspapers picked it up and it gained currency for a short while. But the professor’s theory turned out to be an Aprils Fool’s joke and Associated Press was forced to publish a retraction of the claim.

A celebration of foolishness took place in the Roman festival of Hilaria on March 25, in honour of the resurrection of Attis. Hindus calendar the Festival of Holi, and Jews celebrate Purim about the same time of the year. So the explanation may simply be that the turn of seasons is a cause for light-hearted celebration at that time of the year.

In different countries, April Fools' Day is practiced by sending someone on a "fool's errand," by playing tricks on people and by creating ridiculous situations.

The French call April 1 Poisson d'avril, or "April Fish." One child may place the picture of a fish on another and then shout out Poisson d'avril.

Whatever the true origin of April Fool’s Day, the advent of the month of April is itself a good pretext to feel jolly. And where better to lift one’s spirits but Paris? In the clip below, classical jazz singers give us their renditions of “April in Paris”.



And to see America’s enchantment with Paris, watch the trailer of the film “April in Paris”:


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