The origin of April Fool’s Day is not very clear, though there are many legends associated with it. One is that France moved from following the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one and that caused a shift in celebrating the New Year from April to January.
However, as news reached people slowly in that bygone age, there were many who were still celebrating New Year in April and others who made fun of them.
The tradition stuck and people began to play pranks on one another. Yet another legend relates that it was the time of the equinox and nature that fooled men with an unpredictable weather.
Whatever be the reason, every culture sets aside a specific day to let the hair down, pack up one’s worries and indulge in some harmless merrymaking and fun.
We have the tradition of Holi in India, Hilaria in Rome and another such festival in Mexico. In fact, the character of the fool or the jester has always been integral to all the plays in any culture or language.
Whatever be the story, the comic relief and the interludes were provided by these characters and, sometimes, they became vehicles of the author’s thought, as they could get away with making fun of their rivals.
People could get away by making snobs or dandies fools by using such dialogues that were seen as harmless fun. So, they served a very useful purpose in literature too.
It is only in recent times that the innocent joker has taken on sinister overtones by also being the villain in movies. However, the role of a joker has always been to fool around and indulge in some innocuous fun.
April Fool’s Day is a good reminder, especially in the modern age where people are so busy and serious that they have no time to stop by and laugh at the common foibles of the world.
We have laughter clubs and laughter therapies to bring some lighthearted sunshine into our lives. Laughter is a great stress buster, and doctors recommend watching some funny cartoons to get rid of the built-in stress.
It boosts energy and also triggers the release of endorphins or the happy hormones. A dash of humour in our lives surely helps us to see things in a much different perspective and helps us in bonding with our peers.
Laughing with others in a group promotes social health. Laughter yoga is the new trend. You could share a funny story or a funny episode, play with friends and generally look at yourself a little less seriously.
Sometimes, it is just lovely to observe children and the carefree way in which they play or prattle. Lighten the heart, so that anxiety is reduced and we become happy and also healthy.
As a race, we have become very serious. So go on, indulge in some harmless fun, but ensure that it is not done with malice or ill will. Pranks should not be played in such a way that it causes distress or puts the other to shame or discomfort.
The whole idea is then lost. Let us laugh in a good-natured way and remind ourselves as Charlie Chaplin would say, “a day without laughter is a day wasted”.
It is not just one day in a year that we need to laugh and be happy, but make it as a positive routine. But thank god, there is a reminder at least once a year just in case we forget what it is to laugh and be heard.