Just a Thought: April Fools’ Day is today!
By Steve Walker
Did you know that 10 countries besides the United States, recognizes and celebrates April Fools' Day? Here in our country we celebrate the whole day unlike some others.
Many Americans become excited in anticipation of the day on which it's acceptable to play pranks on your friends. You might actually hear fake news on your radio, on Facebook, twitter and other sources playing a joke or two on you.
We all have friends, classmates and family members who try their best to have a good laugh at your expense. They will test your gullibility. Even co-workers and strangers get involved. You are not safe or immune from your surroundings.
Many countries have adopted the tradition of playing jokes on people every year on April 1. No one seems to know exactly how this somewhat crazy holiday began, but it's the one day of the year that people can be unabashedly silly and act the ”Fool.”
You can also go too far and become dangerous, especially when it seemingly becomes a bit too realistic.
Although the idea of April Fools' Day is similar across the globe, there are small differences and variations in celebration from one country to the next. For instance, France celebrates by putting fish images on people's backs, (usually an activity for children) The unofficial holiday has spread to India, too, where children love to play a hoax on their friends and shout out "April fool!" to the victim of the joke.
In India the younger generations are the ones that take part in this Western-influenced tradition, but all enjoy the fun spirit of April Fools' Day. Kids love yelling out "April fool!" after playing with somebody, and all will play silly pranks like making fake calls to friends.
In Italy they celebrate April Fools' Day by sticking a paper fish to someone else's back. This particular tradition is now mostly practiced by children, but on April 1 all Italians are looking to fool as many as possible with elaborate pranks.
Here in San Antonio in 2012 Michael O’Rourke reporter for the Express News wrote in MySA.com about his April Fools’ Day experience in third grade.
“My first memory of an April Fools' prank was in third grade. Mrs. Frawley (the meanest teacher in the history of our education system) started writing our homework on the chalkboard. She was notorious for overloading our backpacks on a daily basis, but on this day she didn't stop.
“By the time she filled the first board and moved onto the second, the groans from the class were building. This would take hours. We would have to pull a third grade all-nighter! Slowly she turned, smiled and said, "April Fools!" It was the one and only time, if memory serves, she ever smiled.”
In the early 70’s when I taught 7th grade English at Krueger Middle School in NESD I did something similar to Michael O’Rourke’s experience. As class began I told the students to get ready for the test I had promised the day before and pulled out what looked like a stack of tests.
“Put everything away except your pen or pencil.” The look on their faces was priceless. Mouths dropped wide open and other expected responses flowed. One student raised his hand and blurted, “Mr. Walker you didn’t tell us about a test.”
I responded, “April Fools!” The looks on their faces of their relief was awesome. Walden Shelton (now 57 years old!) who later became a County Court Judge and up for re-election this replied “Oh Mr. Walker you are not funny!” My response was “yes I am!” (I still am except in your Court, Judge)
”Have a Happy April Fools’ Day everyone.” And as always, I write just a thought.
Steve Walker is a Viet Nam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace.