April Fool’s Day

Wednesday of last week was April Fools Day1. This is not an official holiday2 and its origin is obscure3.  One possible theory4 is that it was first celebrated after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar5; and the term referred to someone still following the Julian Calendar6, thus an “April Fool.” In many pre-Christian7 cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, the time to start spring planting8.  Those who did this prematurely9 in April were called April Fools, and ridiculed10 by their neighbors. Still another theory is that April 1 was once counted the first day of the year in France.  When King Charles IX changed that to January 1 in keeping with most other countries, some people kept using April 1, and those who did were called “April Fools.”   Whatever the origin, the term April Fools Day seems to have originated11 in Europe, and with many immigrants12 coming to the U.S. from this part of the world, it became widely used.


We couldn’t help thinking about how things have changed on April 1st since we were young.  Don says that he and his brothers would put a bill fold13 out on the sidewalk, with a string tied to it.  When someone came along and started to pick it up they would yank14 the string out of reach15, and, of course, the billfold would disappear.  We would all play tricks16 on each other when we were on the school ground and then yell, “April Fool!”


One way that things have changed is in the recognition17 that it is now the computer generation, and people everywhere were fearful of a computer worm18 that was supposed to infect19 our computers on April 1st.  I had friends who wouldn’t use their computer that day, but we decided that our virus protection20 would be effective, and that seems to be the case as we used it and all seems ok.  At least there weren’t any computers to play tricks with when we were young.


My older brother had a favorite trick he would play on us.  Because it usually was somewhat cold on that day, he would say, “Let me help you put on21 your coat.”  If you forgot which day it was, he would hold your coat up, stick his fist in the sleeve22, and hit your face, while yelling, “April Fool!”  My younger brothers and I kept “biting23” on this trick, time after time. 


A friend of ours has a birthday tomorrow (April 4th).  We’ll have cake, coffee, tea, and a few snacks24 at the home of another friend.  Last year his daughter held a party for him in Des Moines25 and the weather was terrible; I’m glad that this party is supposed to be in Pella26 because we’re supposed to have bad weather again.  We usually think that it would be a good joke if we skipped27 the treats, but I’m sure that won’t happen.


Anyway, we’ll all mention April Fools Day one way or another and reminisce28 about the terrible way we all felt at his party many years ago when we heard that Martin Luther King Jr.29 had been shot.  We’ll hope for no bad news of any type this year. 


1. April Fools Day: the first day of the month of April (愚人节).
2.  official holiday: a day of celebration recognized by the government, and most government offices, banks, etc. are closed for the day (法定节假日).
3. obscure: not well established; unclear (不明确的,模糊的).
4. theory: an explanation based on some sort of factual basis (说法).
5. Gregorian Calendar: a revision of the calendar, carried out during the time of Pope Gregory (1582) of the Roman Catholic Church with the same length of year as the present time (公历,又称格雷果里历).
6. Julian Calendar: an older version of the calendar carried out in Rome in 46 B.C. which established a year of 12 months, 365 days, with each fourth year having 366 (罗马儒略历,一种老的公历).
7. pre-Christian: occurring prior to the birth of Christ, usually denoted as B.C. (公元前).
8. spring planting: the time following winter when flowers, vegetables, etc. are planted (春播).
9. prematurely: too early in the average year for successful gardening (为时过早地).
10. ridiculed:  made fun of, or teased (被取笑).
11. originated: begun or started (起源于).
12. immigrants: people who have arrived from another country (移民).
13. bill fold: a rather flat leather carrier for paper money and credentials (票据夹).
14. yank: quickly pull away, vigorously removed (用力猛拉).
15. out of reach: beyond the ability to grasp or understand (拿不到).
16. tricks: small jokes, or humorous entertainment (捉弄,恶作剧).
17. recognition: understanding, or observing (承认,认可).
18. computer worm: an infectious, intentional mistake in a computer program which causes further errors to appear; often of a harmful nature (计算机蠕虫病毒).
19. infect: initiate a problem or cause a disease; initially a medical term (感染).
20. virus protection: a computer program which protects against infection by a computer virus or other related computer problem (病毒保护).
21. put on: place a piece of clothing or other item onto the body of a person (穿上).
22. stick his fist in the sleeve: place his hand in the sleeve of a coat or jacket (and then strike your face) (从袖子里伸出拳头).
23. biting: being fooled by a trick, joke or jest (上当,受骗).
24. snacks: small food items usually eaten between meals (点心).
25. Des Moines: the capital city of the state of Iowa in the U.S. (德梅因,美国爱荷华州的首府).
26. Pella: a town in south central Iowa (派拉,爱荷华州中南部一个小城镇).
27. skipped: omitted or avoided, or absented (不吃,略过).
28. reminisce: recall or remember something or some idea (回忆).
29. Martin Luther King, Jr.: a well known equal rights activist of the 1960s in the U.S. (马丁•路德金,美国六十年代著名的黑人民权领袖).

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