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April Fools' Day 2016

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Kitkat
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April Fools' Day 2016

Post by Kitkat on Fri 1 Apr 2016 - 13:20

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Re: April Fools' Day 2016

Post by Whiskers on Fri 1 Apr 2016 - 18:27

The origin of April Fools Day

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.
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Kitkat
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Re: April Fools' Day 2016

Post by Kitkat on Fri 1 Apr 2016 - 23:22

Interesting read.  Yes, as with most things, the origin can be traced back to religion.  The calendar was changed at the whim of the Catholic pope Gregory, initially wanting to change the date of the Easter feast.  (Why? - I'm not sure ...) but the Protestants didn't like this idea at all, and England, being a predominantly Protestant country, refused to tag along with the rest of [mostly Catholic] Europe.  They desisted to change from the Julian calendar for something like 50 years.  (Must've been rather confusing to have lived in the UK in those times, especially when it came to celebrating your birthday). surprised  

(This was one of the questions asked on the Channel 5 TV Quiz Show ('100 Percent') a good few years back now.  I was actually one of the contestants on that show back in the early days when it first came out - and it's one of the questions I got wrong, and cost me a vital point!  I made it my business after that to find out all about it.  Another question that I didn't know at the time was "What is Margaret Thatcher's middle name"?  The correct answer (which I will never forget now) is Hilda.   judge

6 Things You May Not Know About the Gregorian Calendar

http://www.history.com/news/6-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-gregorian-calendar

If you were living in England or one of the American colonies 260 years ago, this date—September 13, 1752—didn’t exist. Neither did the 10 days preceding it. Instead, you would have gone to bed on the evening of September 2 and woken up on the morning of September 14. Eleven days had been effectively skipped over as part of the parliamentary measure that implemented the Gregorian calendar, aligning Britain and its overseas possessions with the rest of Western Europe. In most of the world today, people continue to track their days, months and years using the centuries-old system, so chances are you’re intimately familiar with its workings. Still, there are a few things about the Gregorian calendar that might come as a surprise.

1. The original goal of the Gregorian calendar was to change the date of Easter.
In 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar, Europe adhered to the Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. Since the Roman emperor’s system miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes, the calendar had since fallen out of sync with the seasons. This concerned Gregory because it meant that Easter, traditionally observed on March 21, fell further away from the spring equinox with each passing year.

2. Leap years don’t really occur every four years in the Gregorian calendar.
The Julian calendar included an extra day in February every four years. But Aloysus Lilius, the Italian scientist who developed the system Pope Gregory would unveil in 1582, realized that the addition of so many days made the calendar slightly too long. He devised a variation that adds leap days in years divisible by four, unless the year is also divisible by 100. If the year is also divisible by 400, a leap day is added regardless. While this formula may sound confusing, it did resolve the lag created by Caesar’s earlier scheme—almost.

3. The Gregorian calendar differs from the solar year by 26 seconds per year.
Despite Lilius’ ingenious method for syncing the calendar with the seasons, his system is still off by 26 seconds. As a result, in the years since Gregory introduced his calendar in 1582, a discrepancy of several hours has arisen. By the year 4909, the Gregorian calendar will be a full day ahead of the solar year.

4. Some Protestants viewed the Gregorian calendar as a Catholic plot.
Though Pope Gregory’s papal bull reforming the calendar had no power beyond the Catholic Church, Catholic countries—including Spain, Portugal and Italy—swiftly adopted the new system for their civil affairs. European Protestants, however, largely rejected the change because of its ties to the papacy, fearing it was an attempt to silence their movement. It wasn’t until 1700 that Protestant Germany switched over, and England held out until 1752. Orthodox countries clung to the Julian calendar until even later, and their national churches have never embraced Gregory’s reforms.

5. Britain’s adoption of the Gregorian calendar sparked riots and protest—maybe.
According to some accounts, English citizens did not react kindly after an act of Parliament advanced the calendar overnight from September 2 to September 14, 1752. Rioters supposedly took to the streets, demanding that the government “give us our 11 days.” However, most historians now believe that these protests never occurred or were greatly exaggerated. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin welcomed the change, writing, “It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”

6. Before the Gregorian calendar’s adoption, the English new year began on March 25, or Lady Day.
Julius Caesar’s calendar reform of 46 B.C. instituted January 1 as the first of the year. During the Middle Ages, however, European countries replaced it with days that carried greater religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation). The latter, known as Lady Day because it celebrates the Virgin Mary, marked the beginning of the year in Britain until January 1, 1752.

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