April Fool's Day, April 1st
about the evolution of the Western Calendar)
© Dr. Harvey Taylor www.krigline.com
1) Welcome to a strange
Western holiday! Even the name is strange: April Fools' Day. April is the
4th month of the year on the Western calendar.
2) There are many
calendars. A lunar
is based on the moon. A
solar calendar is based on the sun.
3) One lunar calendar is
the Chinese calendar,
It has 12 lunar months
with 29 or 30 days each. The year in the Chinese calendar
has 354 days. This is 11 days shorter than the solar year's
365 days. The Chinese calendar adds an extra month every few years to make
this calendar more like the solar year.
4) The early Romans
had a lunar
it was not very correct. So in 46 B.C., the Emperor Julius Caesar
the Roman calendar. The new
calendar was called the Julian calendar,
after Julius Caesar’s name.
5) Its year was 365 days
long. It gave 30 days to the months of April, June, September, and
November. It gave February only 28 days, and 31 days to the other 7
months. Every 4th year was a leap year, when February
had 29 days. On this calendar the 1st month of the year was
April. So, April 1st became the Roman New Year's Day.
6) But this Julian calendar
was not completely correct. The Julian year was about 11 and ¼ minutes too
long. So, in every 128 years, that calendar was one day behind the true
time by the sun and moon.
7) After about 1500 years,
the first full moon of spring was coming 10 days earlier than the
Julian calendar said it should. This made a problem for the Christian
celebration of Easter Sunday,
which should be just after the 1st full moon in the spring. So
the calendar time needed to be made more like the sun and moon time.
8) At that time the leader
of the Christian church in Rome was named
He changed the date of October 5th on all the A.D. 1582 Roman
calendars to October 15th in order take away the extra 10 days.
9) But to make this new
calendar even more correct, February now has only 28 days in some leap
years. This calendar is used around the world, and is named the
for Pope Gregory.
10) All of this is
connected with the April Fools' holiday. When the Gregorian calendar
began, the King of France was Charles IV (the 4th).
In 1564 he chose January for the 1st month of the year instead
of April, and so New Year’s Day in France in 1564 was January 1st
instead of April 1st, the old date.
11) But not everyone in
heard about the change. Many French people continued to
celebrate the New Year in the spring on April 1st. And
those people were all called "April fools."
12) Europe had an old
custom to play tricks on people for one special day. Very soon
April 1st became the day to play tricks on April fools, and
then on everyone else. So now April 1st is the day to play
tricks on your friends. The British and Scots call April 1st
"All Fools' Day."
13) In modern times April
Fools' Day is mostly a day for children to play tricks
friends. One trick is to secretly put a piece of paper on someone's back
that says something like "Kick me" or "Hit me."
14) When my brothers and I
were very young, we would go on April 1st up to a house and
ring the doorbell. We’d hide until someone opened the door. Then
we'd call out, "April Fool!" and run away.
15) For another April
Fool’s Day trick some adults will go to their office early and
change all the clocks ahead by one hour. Then they will tell everyone who
comes in the door that they are late for work. When they begin to
apologize for being late, they will hear "April Fool!"
16) An April Fools' Day
joke must always be done in kindness, and only to a friend. It should
never be dangerous. It should not make the other person feel
upset or angry. It should never hurt anyone or damage
their clothing or property.
17) So, be careful.
Some of these things might happen to you on this strange Western holiday.
Will you play any tricks on your friends this next April Fools' Day — on