Translation Musings: have you been fooled today?

Apr 1, 2015 | Uncategorized

The fool

1st April – the day when you can’t trust anyone! Have you experienced a prank this morning, or read a news story you just can’t quite believe… and then realised why?

Some classics this morning have been the news that Jeremy Clarkson has had an epiphany and will now be “dedicating his time and financial resources to sustainable energy, road safety and forging mutual understanding and tolerance between people of different cultures and religions.” The Royal Albert Hall revealed a historical spat with the Beatles over the lyrics in “A Day in the Life” and even the University of Cambridge got involved with a voice-activated card reader.

But where did all this madness and hilarity start? Well, as seems to be usual, Chaucer sometimes gets the blame (oh, that Chaucer!), with the earliest link between between the silliness and the date showing up in The Canterbury Tales. It may also have been preceeded by the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India and the Medieval Feast of Fools. Although recognised across the world, with some countries taking it way more seriously than others. In Poland, for example, that, in 1683 when the anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I was foolishly (see what I did there?) signed on 1 April, it was backdated to 31 March.

In the UK and those countries sharing the same tradition, it all ends at noon. So if you’ve forgotten to plan the perfect prank, you’ll have to wait till next year!


image credit: Ulrik @