Yesterday was All Fools Day. I looked up its origins for you and here is what we all wanted to know:

April Fool’s Day History

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1.

Send invitations to nonexistent parties and have other practical jokes played upon them.

Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1.

These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continue on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool’s Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.

In Scotland, for instance, April Fool’s Day is devoted to spoofs involving the buttocks and as such is called Taily Day. The butts of these jokes are known as April ‘Gowk’, another name for cuckoo bird. The origins of the “Kick Me” sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance.

In England, jokes are played only in the morning. Fools are called ‘gobs’ or ‘gobby’ and the victim of a joke is called a ‘noodle.’ It was considered back luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon.

In Rome, the holiday is known as Festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, is on March 25 and is also referred to as “Roman Laughing Day.”

In Portugal, April Fool’s Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends.

The Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31 in India. People play jokes on one another and smear colors on one another celebrating the arrival of Spring.

So, no matter where you happen to be in the world on April 1, don’t be surprised if April fools fall playfully upon you.


Some of us in NKRO  are attending a really good workshop on genealogy and heritage. The lecturer, Lorna Moloney of is  interesting and informative. Last week she was telling us about gravestones. I knew that there were lots of different designs but I thought that that was more to do with what one could afford than with fashion.

People who have made a study of gravestones can tell the date of a stone by its shape. The iconography on stones can also tell us a lot about our ancestors.

Anyone visiting St. Michael’s graveyard in Listowel cannot but notice the amount of celtic crosses there. When I walked through the graveyard on Thursday last I took the opportunity to photograph a few of the different crosses. I could hardly believe that there were so many different crosses in one place.

When I took more notice I saw that no two were the same.

 These are but a small sample of all the crosses that were there. 

Celtic crosses have fallen out of favour of late. Polished marble has replaced granite. Inscriptions are less formal and a fashion has grown up of adorning graves with trinkets and symbols of the departed person. Were I to take my camera to John Paul cemetery I would be recording a very different scene.

If you are seeking to locate the burial details of a Listowel relative this site is very useful


Listowel Youthreach is planning to erect a Remembrance Tree in the Square. Currently cards are on sale in local shops with all proceeds going to the Bee for Battens charity. For each card sold a ribbon will be placed on the tree. The buyer of the card will sent it to someone who has lost someone or who is very ill to tell them that their loved one will be remembered in Listowel. The tree ceremony will be held in The Square on Weds. next April 4  at 1.00p.m.


Random bit of silly news

Why are Jaffa Cakes cakes and not biscuits?

I learned the answer to this pressing question on the radio last week. Apparently, in Britain, cakes attract a lower rate of V.A.T. than biscuits. Cakes are essential, biscuits a luxury, is apparently the hard -to -understand rationale behind this one.

A million pound court case turned on this designation of Jaffa Cakes and the decision came down in favour of designating these edibles as cakes.

The Reason: Cakes go hard when they are stale and biscuits go soft. Ergo Jaffa Cakes are cakes.