Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy April Fool's Day!

Last year's April Fool's Day post is at this link.  And my list of April-related books is at his link.

April Fool's day was born over the controversy among Christian historians regarding the birth of Jesus Christ, a controversial subject in those days.  Most Christian historians said that Christ was born in the spring, but the smart money, which won the day, argued that the Holy Birth coincided with the pagan holiday of winter solstice and involved an evergreen tree.

I'm not quite certain how the April Fool's Day joke evolved from this, but apparently back in the olden days there were court jesters whose job it was to make merry among the dour politicians and the day became one for pranks.

An April Fool's Day salute to the joker by John K. Walters appeared in the April, 1997 issue of Biblio, and it contained many of the early illustrations of the card.

The joker in the modern playing deck of cards was introduced in the 1860s and it caught on quickly.  It evolved partly from The Fool in the much older Tarot deck and some of the early jokers carry some of the same symbolism.

The joker is the wild card, the shape shifter who can assume all of the other identities in the deck, just as the everyman fool progresses amongst and interacts with all of the other tarot cards.  The fool is an id man, unsure of his footing, on the edge of a cliff he is oblivious to, in denial of death.

The bundle on the fool's shoulder carries every mistake he ever made.  His story is a tale told by an id-iot, full of sound and fury.  signifying nothing.  The dog at his feet is in some decks represented as a cat or a tiger, and the earliest joker yet discovered had a tiger on it.

The fool is not really dumb, just ignorant, naive--just green, you might say.  Spring green, apple green, a youth, an April Fool.  Doesn't the world seem apple green when you're seventeen and in love?  Young possessive love can be sweet, but it also can be a just a flirt--shallow and fickle.

Nat King Cole:

It was a lucky April shower.
It was the most convenient door.
I found a million dollar baby
in a five and ten cent store.
The rain continued for an hour.
I hung around for three or four.
Around a million dollar baby
in a five and ten cent store.
Should you get stranded by a shower,
just step inside my cottage door
and meet the million dollar baby
from the five and ten cent store.

Pat Boone:

April love is for the very young.
Every star's a wishing star that shines for you.
April love is all the seven wonders.
One little kiss can tell you this is true.

Sometimes an April day will suddenly bring showers,
rain to grow the flowers for her first bouquet.
But April love can slip right through your fingers,
so if she's the one, don't let her run away.

April can be the sweetest month, but it can also seem cruel and a tease.  It can turn trusting smiles upside down.  T. S. Eliot:

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.

Ernest Hemingway:  "When the cold rains would come and kill the young buds of spring, it was as if a young person had died for no good reason."

Even the weather can say, "April Fool."
"There must be some way outta here, said the Joker to the Thief." -- Bob Dylan

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