Saturday, March 31, 2018

April Fool's Day

Yes, it was practiced during the 19th century. Below you will find an excerpt from American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, Vol. 2 ©1836 from Google Books. There are other sources but in this one you get a feel for how it was looked upon by the author.

It is a curious fact, that the custom of making April Fools prevails in the most widely separated regions of the globe, and that, everywhere, its origin is hidden in remote antiquity. The Hindoos on the Ganges practise it; in all the European countries it exists, in one shape or another ; the French make what they call April Fish; and, in America, it is one of the few mirthful customs which our fathers brought from merry Old England. When once such a fashion was established, we should suppose that human nature might be pretty safely trusted to keep it up. It is desirable to have the privilege of saying, on one day in the year— what we perhaps think, every day—that our acquaintances are fools. But the false refinement of the present age has occasioned the rites of the holyday to fall somewhat into desuetude. It is not unreasonable to conjecture, that this child's play, as it has now become, was, when originally instituted, a vehicle of the strongest satire which mankind could wreak upon itself. The people of antiquity, we may imagine, used to watch each other's conduct throughout the year, and assemble on All Fools' Day, to pass judgment on what they had observed. Whoever, in any respect, had gone astray from reason and common sense, the community were licensed to point the finger, and laugh at him for an April Fool. How many, we wonder, whether smooth-chinned or gray-bearded, would be found so wise in great and little matters, as to escape the pointed finger and the laugh.

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