April Fool’s Day

Word of the day, 1st April 2015

April Fool’s Day /ˈeɪprəl fuːlz deɪ/

Don’t believe everything you hear today – if there’s a news story that sounds a bit strange, or too good to be true, it may well be a hoax /həʊks/.

April Fool’s Day (sometimes called April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day) on the first day of April, is a day when some people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.  The jokes and their victims are known as “April fools“.  Hoax stories may be reported by the press and other media on this day (sometimes explained on subsequent days).

Popular since the 19th century, the day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is well known in Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and the United States.

References to April Fool’s Day can be found as early as the 1500s.  However, these early references were infrequent and tended to be vague and ambiguous and the origin of the “custom of making April Fools” remains a mystery.

The word “fool” comes from Latin “bellows, leather bag“.

A “bellows” /ˈbɛləʊz/ (or “pair of bellows”) is “an instrument consisting of an air chamber with flexible sides or end, a means of compressing it, an inlet valve, and a constricted outlet that is used to create a stream of air, as for producing a draught for a fire or for sounding organ pipes.

So from this meaning, the word was used in Vulgar Latin to refer to “a windbag” (someone who speaks a lot of nonsense; someone who talks a lot but without having knowledge) and so “an empty-headed person”).

As a verb “to fool someone” is to make someone look like a fool, or look “foolish” /ˈfuːlɪʃ/ (or “cause to appear ridiculous”).

There is a saying, which I believe may come from an old Chinese proverb, that says: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

In other words, this says it is shameful to you to make someone look like a fool.
But if that person still trusts you enough to let you fool them again, it is a shame on them.

I would certainly agree with the first part of that saying.  To deliberately make someone look like a fool is not a nice thing to do.  Therefore, especially as a Christian, I believe this is not the sort of thing we should be involved with.

Having said that, I think if it is clear that something is a joke and that no one is made to look foolish, some of the fake stories can be quite funny.

God, through His Word the Bible, has a lot to say about fools, and about not being foolish, but about being wise and gaining wisdom.

Here are just a few examples:

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  (Psalm 14:1/53:1)
(Meaning, only a fool – an “empty-headed person” – tries to convince himself that there is no God.  This is quite incredible, because some people who claim to be atheists are very “intelligent”, yet God calls them fools!).

Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool.  (Proverbs 10:18)

Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.  (Proverbs 17:28)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.  (Proverbs 1:7)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:18)

If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”  (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  (James 1:5)

So today, instead of foolishness and folly, let us be wise and seek true wisdom that comes from God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.

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