After my ode to Irish folk music for our March / April '02 edition, life caught up with me, forcing a temporary retirement from these hallowed pages.

However, it is impossible to keep a ham such as myself away from the limelight for too long, and by April of the following year I was ready to return.

I had planned to reprint this tale from March / April of '88 back in 1999, but as you may recall our server was down. April Fools, indeed!

It seemed perversely appropriate to use that "lost" column to signal my return . . .

You will recall, dear readers, how I left you, after a column on Irish "Shamrockery", with a "Good night to yez", and was gone. Without so much as a "By your leave"!

Ah well, no matter. It is, after all, only just April now, isn't it?

Hmmm . . .

Ah, good point ­ for this is April 2003, which means it has been an entire year since last I shared any folkloric gems with you. How, you may ask, could this have happened?

I couldn't tell you ­ I can't believe a year has passed.

And what an interesting year it was! And no, I'm not going to tell you about it!

The important thing, as you have deduced already, is that I am back, to regale you again with more grim ghoulish ghost stories, more wit and wisdom from various national icons, more mining excursions into long lost origins, more myth debunking, more myth creating, yes ­ all that and more!

And yes, we may indeed be close to finally reprinting some of our past columns for those who may have missed them. But new webmaster Dan can fill you in on that.

And I suppose it is appropriate here to bid a fond farewell to our long suffering Uncle Mike, who kept this site up for so long and greatly enhanced so many of my columns over the years before finally finding an appropriate sucker to take on the thankless job of Webmaster.

And so a brand new Hello to our soon-to-be long suffering brother Dan, who should have known better than to take this task over.

And as I ponder this year long sabbatical I find myself newly returned from, I recall a previous gap ­ it was spring of 1999, we'd gotten our first issue of the year out ­ and then the server pretty much bit the dust, with the result that there was no newsletter or folklore column for several months.

And so I offer you this little tidbit ­ this is the lost column that was to appear for the march / april 1999 edition of the Book Again newsletter.

And I'll see you in May!

April Foolery


Prior to the 16th Century, the New Year began at approximately the same time Spring did (March 25, to be precise), but of course Someone couldn't leave well enough alone, and sometime during the 1500's they moved the beginning of the year from March to January 1st. Well, the general populace reacted the way General Populaces generally react to arbitrary decisions that mess with their lives, and this defilement of the calendar was, to say the least, decidedly unpopular with the populace.

1500's being what they were, of course, direct action was unthinkable. This was the time when one's livelihood and often one's very life depended on the slightest nuances pertaining to one's method of worship.

Popular protest thus took the form of Practical Jokery. Citizens began to celebrate their Traditional New Year (the end of March) by sending local officials on false errands, and then taunting them with the fact that it was April the First. The French were apparently the originators of this little trend.

April Fool's Day is therefore a descendent of masked Civil Disobedience from Renaissance Times, and another reminder of how protest and buffoonery are oft close allied . . .

A word of caution, assuming you read this prior to the First of April: it is extremely unlucky to play a prank on someone after midday on April Fool's Day.
\par \tab While we're on the subject of Superstitions, I should also mention that it is not a bad thing to bake on Good Friday, for according to time-honored tradition nothing baked on that day will go moldy.

However, do not attempt to garden or wash clothes on that day, particularly the latter. Tradition holds that a washerwoman waved a wet garment in Christ's face as He was led to Calvary, causing him to exclaim that "Cursed be everyone who hereafter shall wash on this day".

The custom of wearing New Clothes for Easter dates back to the days when Lent was observed not only by fasting, but by the forgoing of bathing, as well! New clothes were undoubtedly something of a necessity after such rituals . . .