Who really is the originator of the funniest holiday, Fool’s Day, and where do you get a real education in laughter? Read the most interesting and fun facts in our article about Fool’s Day!
Every year, millions of people around the world have reason to look around incredulously and doubt the words of even their closest friends. That’s because April 1st is the world’s unofficial joke day, better known as Fool’s Day. Germans love this holiday of laughter and ingenuity, as do many other nations.
In today’s article, we look at who invented the Fool’s Day, how the holiday was adopted by the Germans, and we’ll talk about the peculiarities of German humor.
History of Fool’s Day
Many world-famous, beloved holidays have not kept their roots. The same can be said about Fool’s Day: there are dozens of legends about how such an unusual holiday arose, here are some of them.
In Ancient Rome there was no Fool’s Day, but the Romans celebrated the day of the goddess Venus – the holiday was called “Venerealia” (Veneralia). All kinds of funny stories and jokes were an obligatory part of the holiday.
With today’s Fools’ Day not only the names, but also the dates diverge: the Romans preferred to mock human silliness and credulity in the middle of February, while we know only the first April Fools’ Day jokes.
Another legend linking Fool’s Day to antiquity says that the originators of the holiday were the Indians. According to the legend, at the end of March, the entire population of India had fun and joked around with acquaintances, celebrating Joke Day.
How true this story is is unknown, but today Indians prefer to party on the first Sunday in May. On this day, India celebrates Laughter Day, followers of the Laughter Yoga Movement arrange to meet at an agreed place, pray, and make laughter-like sounds instead of a mantra.
When Europe began switching to the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, the flagship country in this break with tradition was France. King Charles IX changed the position of dates and holidays in the country so that the familiar medieval New Year’s Day, celebrated on April 1, ceased to exist. It was replaced by the first of January.
However, many Frenchmen out of old habit congratulated their friends and relatives in April, for which they were teased with inappropriate conservatives. The poor people were joked about so often that the French even called the day – “April Fish” (Poisson d’Avril), referring to the fact that many are as easy to fool as catching a gullible April fish.
In den April schicken
As early as the 17th century, April Fool’s Day, the name given to the holiday by the English, began to conquer Europe. In German, there was a phrase “in den April schicken“, which meant a cruel joke, literally translated as “send in April.
However, despite the fact that the Germans accepted the holiday, not everyone had fun on this day. Because of their religiosity, the citizens of medieval Germany did not like April Fool’s Day. It was believed that Judas Iscariot was born on this day. Rarely did a German take on important business on April Fool’s Day or celebrate his birthday widely on the unlucky date.
In today’s Germany, such beliefs are rarely held and Fool’s Day is perceived exclusively as a worldwide celebration of fun, jokes and self-irony.
Aprilscherz is nothing more than a German April Fool’s joke. The word itself did not appear until the second half of the 19th century, but the name of the German April Fool – Aprilnarr – was given a century earlier, and in 1854 the Grimm brothers included it in their large dictionary of the German language. Today, this is the name given to those who have been pranked and believed in an untrue story.
Despite Germans saying that on April 1st they can make jokes on everyone, in fact, the German sensitivity takes its toll.
Even after an innocent joke, a German will most probably invite you for coffee or lunch to ensure that you don’t take the joke to heart and are not disappointed.
After a successful prank it is customary to reveal the cards with the words: “April, April”. It’s a reminder that April is not a regular month, so you have to watch out. By the way, distrust in April is in Germans’ blood, so even in medieval Germany, there was a well-known expression: “April, April, der macht alles, was er will” (April, who does whatever he wants).
A little bit about German humor
It so happens that the Germans are primarily associated by representatives of other nations with groggy hilarity, engineering precision and restraint. Although German humor has been undeservedly deprived of attention, let’s talk about some of its features.
First of all, Germans try not to joke at work. To be nicknamed “Spaßman” (Funman) in Germany is not so pleasant and honorable. It is more of a sarcastic remark that insinuates that you are getting in the way of your professional duties.
Secondly, German humor is famous for its directness and even some cruelty. Often in comparison with, for example, English traditions, German satire looks rude and unnecessarily frank.
Thirdly, tactful Germans do not allow themselves to joke, much less to laugh, at jokes about the disabled and other people in worse life situations. But German Witze (jokes) often mention regional features of the Germans themselves. For example, crazy Berliners, cheeky Bavarians, stubborn Saxons or simple-minded Frisians.
The school of laugh in Munich
Despite the fact that the existence of such a school and sounds like a joke – it’s pure truth! More than a decade ago, it occurred to Germany that many citizens were suffering from their excessive seriousness and pragmatism. Seemingly excellent personality traits statistically led to withdrawal, stress, overexertion, loneliness and insomnia. Then, gelotologists got involved in solving the problem.
It was they who founded the school where they teach people to laugh. Training helps Germans to relax, release emotions, and give the body a discharge.
To joke or not to joke? That’s the question!
It turns out that Germans do have a special relationship with humor and laughter, but the right place and time also plays an important role. During carnival or Fool’s Day, for example, no one will judge you for your jokes, on the contrary, you will be supported with a smile. So don’t be afraid to be resourceful; just say the magic phrase “April, April” and treat your friend to a coffee or a beer.