I’ve been writing a lot of serious posts lately, and I know that it’s likely getting heavy everywhere. Today is April Fools Day, so let’s talk about the topic of foolishness.
Society has a love hate thing with fools. Looking at the History.com website, they say that the practice of April Fools day itself goes back to 1582. When the Pope declared that the West was changing the calendar to be more accurate, the ancient practice of celebrating the New Year on April first was changed so it was forever more January First. And thus those who celebrated it on April first were….April Fools.
But the Renaissance Catholics were not the first to celebrate such things. There were court jesters centuries before, and in Rome there had been a festival called Hilaria where people were allowed to run around like fools.
The Fool or Jester was employed by lords in medieval times to entertain them. Most traditions allowed the fool freedom of speech, something rare in those times. Lords in those times held similar duties to those of a President, and it was felt that without a good Fool to entertain them, many lords would become dour and cruel, and of course nobody wants a cruel master.
Life is hard. Trucks come in late. Your significant other has a hard day and takes it out on you. You have a flat tire when you are already late to work. Sometimes it can get to be so much that you feel you will go crazy if you don’t release some steam. In the last century or so it has become possible (though I wonder how much longer it will remain possible) for most of the middle class to take a vacation. And nearly all of us have televisions and phones. But in the ancient times, you had to be more creative to get a release. The nobles had court jesters. And in time the nobles learned the poor needed something to. The Romans had Hilaria and Lupercalia as times to relax your inhibitions and get crazy. And then they built the Colosseum and introduced gladiators to society. The original circus was just a blood sport.
I never really celebrated the day. I took things too seriously as a kid, and since I took offense so easily, I didn’t often play pranks on others. One of my best friends thought that it would be a great idea one day to arrange for the class to all just stare at the teacher for so many minutes, and then at the exact same moment everyone just let their heads drop onto their desks. We never got it done though. One time my pastor was telling me it was fun to call 800 numbers and leave crank messages. So one time I called “Base Camp at Purgatory.” I was gonna ask if they could spare a third basemen for hell. I couldn’t get through it, I hung up laughing after a bit.
It was brought to my attention that humans are the only animal that laughs. I’m not sure if that is true. I know animals sometimes seem to have a sense of humor. But then maybe we anthropomorphize them too much.
Some of my readers are likely wondering what the point is. And often that was the charm of a fool. Sometimes it was difficult to figure out what their point is. If you have ever made an effort to be an excellent comedian, you know it can be frustrating sometimes, when something seems so funny to you, and your audience is not so entertained. Often it can mean the difference between leaving the restaurant with the love of your life, and leaving with a police escort and another restraining order.
Editor’s note: Curtis has been taken to a hospital. The psychiatrist assures us he will be better soon. In the meanwhile….why so serious!?
Bo shuda! Chubba locka docka solo!
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