Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring 1 : Aprils and holidays around the world

Dear Friends & Colleagues,
It looks like April is filled with a lot of unusual days of celebration, fun—and even trepidation. (It depends on which country you live in.)
For example, in the Western World, April 1 can either be a fun day or it can become a day of victimhood. This day of the year is known as either April Fools Day or All Fool’s Day. Until around the 16th century, The day, April 1, had been the first day of the year in many western calendars. So, this lighthearted day was created to take that official day’s place on the social calendar..
Likewise, in Taiwan, calendar days have been changed in recent years, too. For example, March 29 used to be Youth Day–and it used to mean a day off from school. Now, this year, April 4 (Children’s Day) is the day to be taken-off-from-school—& it is followed by April 5, Tomb Sweeping Day.

The western world also has a church calendar celebrated by Christians. This year the most important Christian Holiday (Easter Day) will be on April 24. In contrast, April 22 is a very solemn day for Christians, however, that date has the happy-sounding name of Good Friday.
Meanwhile, in Japan 4-4 or April 4 is a day of bad luck, so many airlines don’t have very many passengers on that day. “The reason is that 四(four) is similar to 死(death).” Both symbols for four and death are pronounced the same, ‘Shii’, in Japanese. When I lived in Japan, I , therefore, found it easy to book a plane or train ticket on April 4.

April Fools—April 1 :
Observances Around the World
According to many websites, “April Fools’ Day [April 1] is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a ‘fool’s errand,’ looking for things that don’t exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.” A typical fool’s errand* in my home would have been: “Kevin, go and get me a left-handed monkey wrench or a left-handed screwdriver!” (Wrenches are neither right- nor left- handed tools.)
Pranks** performed on April Fool’s Day range from the simple, (such as saying, “Your shoe’s untied, or I accidentally stepped on your glasses!), to the elaborate. Setting a roommate’s alarm clock back an hour is a common gag. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, “April Fool!”

Practical jokes*** are a common practice on April Fool’s Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool’s Day was a fairly detailed documentary about “spaghetti farmers” and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees. April Fool’s Day is a “for-fun-only” observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their “significant other” out to eat in a fancy restaurant. Nobody gets off work or school. It’s simply a fun little holiday, but a holiday on which one must remain forever vigilant, for he may be the next April Fool! http://wilstar.com/holidays/aprilfool.htm Interestingly, no one knows how this particular holiday tradition began.

Have a great Spring, Matsu Friends and Family!

–Kevin Stoda

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1 Comments:

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