April Fools’ Day is always celebrated on April 1st. It is the name given to the custom of playing practical jokes on friends, or sending them on fools errands. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes played on friends or relatives might last the entire day. Even the news media and major companies sometimes get involved. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, “April Fool!”
The history of April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is not clear. There is no first “April Fools’ Day” that can be pinpointed on the calendar, although it is known to date back at least to the sixteenth century. Most historians believe that April Fool’s Day originated in continental northern Europe and then spread to Britain.
In England, tricks can be played only in the morning. If a trick is played on you, you are a “noodle”.
In Scotland, April Fools’ Day is actually celebrated for two days and the custom is known as “hunting the gowk” (the cuckoo), and April fools are “April gowks”. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. The origin of the “kick me” sign can be traced to this observance.
In Ireland, a common practical joke was to send someone to deliver a note that read “send the fool further.” In many places, these ‘fool’s errands’ would be accompanied by a verse for the recipient which said “don’t you laugh, and don’t you smile, send the gowk another mile.”
In France, children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their backs. When the young victim discovers this trick, the prankster yells “Poisson d’Avril!” (April Fish!)
In Portugal, April Fools’ is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before Lent. The traditional trick there is to throw flour at your friends.
Here is my own brand of humor whipped into a recipe I call Bird’s Nest Soup:
1 bird’s nest (I hear swallow nests are best)
6 tablespoons crushed rock sugar (to help balance any acidic taste the nest might have)
2 cups clean water
Go over the nest and pick out any loose feathers, dirt or droppings. Prepare the nest for soup by soaking it in cold water for several hours (or overnight). Rinse well. Go over the nest and pick out any loose feathers, dirt or droppings.
Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the bird’s nests for about 5 minutes. Rinse well and gently squeeze dry. Go over the nest and pick out any loose feathers, dirt or droppings. Place the bird’s nest in soup pot and add 2 cups of clean water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the nest is quite soft. Add the rock sugar, stirring to dissolve.
Serve the soup hot.
Brush, floss and rinse mouth thoroughly after eating.
Serious Note :
Real bird’s nests are apparently used to make soup in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Borneo where it is considered a major tonic food. As one online source says, “It is light gray regurgitated Gelidium seaweed mixed with swallow saliva and needs extensive attention to pick out extraneous items before washing, soaking, cooking, and serving. This hand labor and the fact that it is difficult and dangerous to gather nests makes them very expensive. Bird’s Nest is said to nourish kidneys, lungs, heart and stomach, and to regulate circulation. Bird’s nest, high in protein and with reasonable amounts of calcium, iron, and riboflavin, is deficient in three essential amino acids: lysine, methionine and tryptophan.”
Thanks to Calendar Updates for the background info on April Fool’s Day!