weird and wacky holidays happening in April

April 1 is April Fools’ Day

Today is April Fools’ Day, also known as April Fool’s Day. When we set out to determine its origins, we found a lot more theories than answers.

april fools' day

Satellites around Mars hoax – 1959

The ancient Romans celebrated the aptly-named Hilaria festival in late March to honor the resurrection of Attis, son of the Great Mother Cybele. It was essentially a big costume party, copied from the Greek ΑΝΑΒΑΣΙΣ (Ascensus). Did they play practical jokes? We like to imagine the thrill of tying someone’s gladiator sandals together and asking him to go get us more punch.

Was Chaucer the first author to refer to April Fools’ Day when he wrote Nun’s Priest’s Tale in 1392? Probably not. Scholars disagree in their interpretation of the phrase “thritty days and two.” Some believe it is meant to be added at the end of March (May 3rd); others, to its beginning (April 1st). The latter would seem to link the date to his tale of a fool being tricked by a fox. Chaucer may have been intentionally vague and, as a master of satire, would almost certainly delight in the literary dustup he caused.

The first direct reference to April 1st as a day to play jokes was written by Flemish poet Eduard de Dene in 1561. It is titled “Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach,” which translates very roughly to “Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April.” In it, a nobleman decides to trick his servant by sending him on numerous silly and unnecessary errands. What a funny guy! The servant realizes what his boss is up to and in the closing line of each stanza, says, “I am afraid…that you are trying to make me run a fool’s errand.”

april fools' day

Flying bus hoax – 1950

Another story claims that April Fools’ Day originated in France. On a trip to survey his kingdom, Charles IX noticed that church districts began the new year on many different days, including Christmas and Easter. On August 9, 1564, not long after his 14th birthday, the king issued the Edict of Roussillon, which included the decree that January 1st would mark the new year for all. It was enacted on January 1, 1567.

Legend holds that some people clung stubbornly to the old New Year’s Day and they were mocked as “April fools.” Dealing with multiple calendars and moveable feast days, some timed to consolidate pagan and Christian holidays, must have been confusing. But there is no record of anyone in France ever celebrating New Year’s Day on April 1st.

In Great Britain, March 25th was celebrated as New Year’s Day because it coincided with the Feast of Annunciation. The Christian observance lasted seven days, ending on April 1st. But the April Fool’s calendar-change theory doesn’t work there, either, since the country as a whole clung stubbornly to its tradition until 1752. By then, April Fools’ Day had already become a time-honored tradition.

As it turns out, Great Britain had been in on the joke for quite a while. On April 2, 1698, Dawks’s News-Letter reported, “Yesterday being the first of April, several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed.” Tickets were issued for admittance to the Annual Ceremony of Washing the Lions. Visitors were informed they must go to the White Gate to gain entrance.

april fools' day

Ticket hoax – 1857

There was no White Gate. There were no lions. But the ticket allowed the bearer to bring one friend. True humiliation only takes place when someone you know is there to see it.

To sum up, we still don’t know who created this holiday. We suspect the first prank happened in a cave when one guy stuck another guy’s hand in a puddle while he was sleeping to see if he could get him to wet his loincloth.

Have a happy April Fools’ Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

National Hairball Awareness Day

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day, observed annually on the last Friday of April.

National Hairball Awareness Day

Hairballs are a nuisance and just plain gross, as anyone who’s stepped on one in bare feet can attest. They’re no fun for cats, either, causing discomfort and irritation. In some cases, they can be an indicator of serious illness. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more, and be sure to brush your pets often and keep your home clean to prevent dust and other particles from adhering to their fur, where they can be ingested.

P.S.: We’re not advocating the nuclear option you see above for every pet. Rocky, the cat shown here, hated to be brushed but for some reason enjoyed the shearing process. His groomers always remarked on how mellow he was and charged much less for his visits. Despite his dyspeptic look, Rocky loved his lion cut. We’d even say he rocked it!

Have a safe and happy National Hairball Awareness Day!

More cat holidays:
Respect Your Cat Day – March 28
Cat Herders’ Day – December 15
National Cat Day – October 29

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

April 26 is Alien Day

alien dayToday is Alien Day. The date 4/26 pays homage to LV-426, the planet where Ripley and her expendable crew set down and take on a stowaway that no amount of Pepcid-AC can overcome. By the time the monster surprises Dallas with a gesture that looks suspiciously like jazz hands, it’s clear that the entire crew will indeed be expended.

Ripley and Jonesy, the luckiest cat in the universe, escape after a run-in with the alien, who has hidden in a shuttle so inefficiently designed that it has wasted space in the exact proportions of a slavering hell creature.

In the sequel, Aliens, Ripley returns to LV-426–as an advisor, that’s all–with the Colonial Marines and Burke, Carter J., a company man and (spoiler alert) not an okay guy, after contact is lost with the Weyland-Yutani employees working there. Suffice it to say there are problems and a few deaths are involved.

Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection take place on a penal planet and the USM Auriga spaceship, respectively. Prequel Prometheus occurs on LV-223, another moon in the same star system.

Director Ridley Scott’s sequel to his prequel will be called Alien: Covenant and is scheduled for release October 6, 2017. Scott has issued this description:

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

At the end of Prometheus, David and Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) survived. What’s happened to her? The films have always had a strong female lead. We hope Scott’s planning to keep it that way.

Meanwhile, Neill Blomkamp has been working on Alien 5, but that’s only the working title, since it appears that he plans to dropkick Alien³  and Alien: Resurrection and pick up where Aliens left off.

Many fans of the early movies are happy about this prospect. Unfortunately, Scott has “asked” Blomkamp to delay his movie until after Alien: Covenant opens.

alien day

Blomkamp has been sharing concept art since last year which shows Hicks and Ripley very much alive. He released this pic of Newt this morning in honor of Alien Day.

alien day

Can fans trust him to bring the series back to life? Will we get the director of District 9 or the one who made Chappie? Will Scott’s wishes put Blomkamp’s plans into permanent hypersleep? Stay tuned and have a happy Alien Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 26 is National Pretzel Day

Today is National Pretzel Day. In 2003, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell dedicated April 26th to the snack food that continues to be a major contributor to the state’s economy.

By the 18th century, when German immigrants introduced them to the people of Pennsylvania, pretzels already had a long history. One popular origin story states that an Italian monk invented them in 610 AD to reward children who learned their prayers. He fashioned them to look like arms crossing the chest, which was supposedly the pose used to pray. There is no evidence to support any part of that but the legend persists.

The Hortus deliciarum, a 12th-century medieval encyclopedia compiled in an abbey in the German Alsace region, which is now part of France, contains the earliest known depiction of a pretzel.

National Pretzel Day

A prayer book commissioned in the 15th century by Catherine of Cleves is considered a Dutch masterpiece. In this portrait, St. Bartholomew is surrounded by pretzels.

National Pretzel Day

The next time you grab a pretzel, take a moment to appreciate its design and heritage before chomping into it. Have a happy National Pretzel Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays