April Fool's Day in Mexico
Mexico's (and Spain's) counterpart to April Fool's
Day is actually observed on December 28, the Día
de los Santos Inocentes . Originally the day was
a sad remembrance of the alleged slaughter of the innocent
children by King Herod. It eventually evolved into a lighter
commemoration involving pranks and trickery. Traditionally
Mexican children would borrow, but not repay, small loans
from unsuspecting friends and relatives they consider
a soft touch. Once they've received the loan, they say
the following verse (quoted in Frances Toor's, A Treasury
of Mexican Folkways, 1947) or something similar:
Que te dejaste engañar
Sabiendo que en este día
Nada se debe prestar.
|Innocent little dove
You have let yourself be fooled
Knowing that on this day
You should lend nothing.
Here in San Felipe a good part of the population is so
taken by the tradition that they enthusiastically transpose
Dia de los Santos Inocentes onto the other 364
days of the year --without the verse.
A Traditional New Year's Becomes
April Fool's Day
Ancient cultures, including those as varied
as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day
on April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March
20th or March 21st). In medieval times, much of Europe
celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the
beginning of the new year.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new
calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian
Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to
be celebrated Jan.1. Many countries, however, resisted
the change. In fact, some European countries held out
for centuries (Scotland until 1660; Germany, Denmark,
and Norway until 1700; and England until 1752).
In 1564 France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted
New Year's day to Jan. 1. However, many people either
refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about
it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day April 1.
Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists,
sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to
trick them into believing something false.
The French came to call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April
Fish." French children sometimes taped a picture
of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson
d'Avril" when the prank was discovered.
Great Britain Accepts the Calendar
In 1752, Great Britain finally changed over to the Gregorian
Calendar, and April Fool's Day began to be celebrated
in England and in the American colonies. Pranks and jokes
are of course still popular on this day—not to mention
the rest of the year.