Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's

April first—a day for jokes and high jinks, pranks and put-ons.

So how did April Fool’s Day begin? Funny you should ask. It’s a little known fact that during the Roman Empire, a court jester boasted to Emperor Constantine that fools could do a better job of ruling the kingdom. Constantine, accepting the challenge, set aside one day a year for fools  to rule. 

The first fool appointed to the task was named Kugel. He decreed that only foolishness would be allowed on that day. And so began April Fool’s Day—as reported by Professor Joseph Boskin, of Boston University, in 1983.

Just one eensy little problem. Barely worth mentioning. Boskin was himself playing an April Fool’s Day joke when he told this story, but several newspapers ran it as news. Boston University later apologized for the ruse. The truth is that nobody really knows how April Fool’s Day began. 

Following are some more of the most epic April Fool’s jokes ever played. 

Spaghetti Trees

In 1957, a British news show, Panorama, played fake footage of farmers in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from trees. Hundreds of  people contacted the BBC, wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC politely told them, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Bogus Burgers 

In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, for “left-handed Whoppers.” These southpaw patties had all the regular ingredients, rotated 180 degrees. Many customers started ordering their burgers left- or right-handed--because yes, people really are that dumb.

TV stinks! 

In 1965,  British TV claimed to be testing a new technology that would transmit odors to the viewing audience. Some people actually called to say that smell-o-vision was working!

Shock and Ahhhh... 

One April 1st during World War I, a French pilot flew over a German camp and dropped a big bomb. The Germans ran for cover, but the bomb failed to explode. The reason? When the soldiers inspected the “bomb” at close range, it turned out to be a football with a note that read, “April Fool!” 

Are You at Risk? 

A respected British journal, The Veterinary Record, ran an article in 1972 about the dreadful diseases of Brunus edwardii, a species "commonly kept in homes in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and North America." Serious discussion about the article continued for months—even though Brunus edwardii, it turns out, is a fancy-pants name for a teddy bear.

Hats off to all these inspired pranksters and jokers who save us momentarily from our hair-shirt seriousness and prune-faced self-importance. 

But these days, adrift in a sea of fake news and outright deception, we may have lost our ability to be amused by April Fool's jokes. It figures that the enemy of our souls would target God's gift of humor--for laughter is a great and powerful weapon in the battle of good vs. evil. 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  -- I Cor. 1:27

April Fool's Day reminds me that God chooses the foolish things of the world to surprise and confound the so-called wise. And that gives me hope that He can use me, along with all the other weak and stammering and foolish things.

     Photo credits:
          jester -- "The Laughing Jester," an anonymous painting in the Art Museum of Sweden -- public domain
          spaghetti -- public domain
          Burger King -- a Burger King in Norway, photo by Nicky Pallas
          WWI Bomber -- public domain
         Teddy bear -- photo by Jonik

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