Wednesday, March 31, 2021

April Fool/The Fool's Journey


April Fool/The Fool's Journey
April 1 has been April Fool's Day for a long time, and who has not had some fun with this holiday?

Practical jokes and mischief played to provoke laughter and humor, it was originally a holiday dedicated to the Roman goddess Cybele, and Hilaria was a holiday for being cheerful and merry, from which we get the word hilarious. Games, masquerades, mocking and jokes were the spirit of the time. Think of it as sort of an early Mother's Day, when people were celebrating the Spring Equinox, which always comes in March and signals the return of the planting season.

Roman holidays were weeks long affairs, not single days. And even today, in large parts of our country, Spring Equinox is still regarded as the time to begin spring plantings. Weather differences like we have in Colorado cause the planting season to begin later out here, but the traditions still cover this part of the year. So all the way back then, our ancestors recognized the value of humor. They were welcoming in the planting season and the return of spring with humor during the same time that they would be planning their planting and putting their thoughts into a plentiful harvest. Just like us, they were unwinding from winter doldrums and staying inside a lot.

The Christian holiday of Easter gets its name from Estara, also spelled Eostre, a Germanic fertility goddess whose name is also spelled Ostara in some cultures, is in this same time frame. Spiritually and metaphorically, Easter celebrates the return from the dead of Christ, and spring is the return from the dormant season of winter for many plants. That is why there are so many rabbits and eggs with this holiday, the symbols of birth and rebirth. The date for Easter is set in a way that resonates with these old traditions.

In the national cathedral in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, they have a huge stained glass window of an egg installed over the huge cross at the front of the cathedral and the tour guide told me that it was the symbol of birth and rebirth. Instead of being celebrated on the same day every year, Easter is set on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox.

Hilarity and humor are attitudes that help us keep our sanity and balance our energies in stressful times. And who among us could not use a little more lightness in our lives? Research in recent years has proven that laughter can help boost the immune system, as do music and love. That is why I frequently use humor when I am talking with you. Humor is a great way to illustrate an idea and make a memorable point.

Comedy clubs have long been one of my favorite places to go, and in the absence of being able to go because of the rules we have had, a great alternative is the selection of recordings of stand up comedians on Netflix. So how did April Fool come to be a holiday celebration?

Back in 1582, when France switched to the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Day was moved to January 1. The Julian calendar, which had been used up until that time, had the new year as beginning on April 1. This is why the zodiac sign of Aries, which comes at this time of year, is the sign that astrologers begin their year with.

So people who were slow to change calendars were known as April Fools, and that is when pranks began to become a popular activity associated with the day. Some people just enjoyed the rebellious attitude of pranks and mischief, and back in those days, big changes like that happened slowly. Later, most western nations adapted the new calendar, and as they did, the spirit of hilarity followed the calendar into those other nations. In 1683, the Treaty of Warsaw, which formalized an alliance between Poland and the Holy Roman Empire, was dated March 31, rather than April 1 to avoid confusion.

When Google rolled out its free gmail service on April 1, 2004, many people inquired whether it was a joke. Remember that earlier email services required a person to pay a fee to get an account. Another one? Back in 1998, Burger King advertised the sale of the Left-Handed Whopper, and people went to their stores and tried to order one.

There is a feeling of lightness emerging now as more people are getting vaccinated and states are relaxing rules and we see a beginning of the end of the restrictions of the past year. As spirits lighten in response to these re-openings, humor will be more present and part of our recovery.

The picture above is from one of my favorite new decks, The Elemental Wisdom Tarot from Taroteca Studios in Warsaw, Poland. The artists are Graciana Zielinska & Lukas Sienkiewicz.

I always love hearing from you, so if you feel like sending me a note, calling or coming to see me, please do!

Have a wonderful day!

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