Written by Nana Latsi
April fools… What lie are you going to tell? What lie are they going to tell you?
How did this strange but amusing custom start?
April Fool’s Lies is a custom that has come to us from Europe. Of the various versions about its origin two are the prevailing.
According to the first version, the custom was initiated by the Celts. People of northwestern Europe, the Celts, were poor fishermen. The fishing season began on April 1st. However good fishermen were, at this time of year fish are difficult to catch. So they, as the “code of conduct” of fishermen of all time has called, were lying about how many fish they had caught. This habit, was made with the passage of time custom.
The second version, considered to be more historically valid, wants the birthplace of the custom of 16th century France. Until 1564, the French New Year’s Eve was “April 1st”. But this year, and during the reign of Charles the 9th, this changed and New Year’s Day was now considered the 1st of January. In the beginning, not all citizens accepted this. The reactionaries continued to celebrate their old New Year’s Eve on April 1st, while the rest sent them New Year’s presents to make fun of them. This teasing was transformed over time into a custom.
This custom also came to Greece and was differentiated by acquiring a Greek connotation. The basic idea, of course, remained the same. We’re lying innocently in order to fool our victim. In some areas, they believe that anyone who manages to fool the other will have luck on his side for the rest of the year. In others they believe that the “attacker” will have a good harvest in his crops. Also the rain water of April Fool’s Day, some believe, has healing properties. As for the “victim”, it is believed that, unlike the “abuser”, he will have bad luck the rest of the year and probably if he is married he will be widowed quickly.
According to the Greek folk artist Loukatos, this custom is a deliberate “trick of the harmful forces that would prevent any production” such as the beginning of the month for both March and April, forcing many to take various “countermeasures” (alexia* measures). Also the Greek folklorist G. Megas agrees that April Fool’s Day “falsehood” misleads underlying forces of evil, so that it is seen by the people as an important condition of magnetic energy (attraction or deterrence) for an impending success.
Over the past century, technology has helped some fool thousands of people on this day. For example, an American newspaper published an article (in the early 20th century) in which it was reported that Thomas Edison had invented a machine that turned water into wine. Shares in wine-making and handling companies plummeted on the stock market.
Another example of a major April Fool’s prank is that of the BBC network in 1957. Then a report was aired by this network, in which Italian farmers collected pasta from the trees that were supposed to produce them. However, similar reports continue to this day from almost all SMEs, which most of the time touch on important issues of economy, entertainment, etc.
Happy April Fool’s Day and good lies!
*Alexikakos. Nickname of ancient Greek deities, for which there was the glorification that they removed all evil.