It's April and spring has truly sprung

Gareth Meirion

The frost has melted, the buds have blossomed and the fields are dotted with lambs. Winter’s cold grip has given way to April’s mildness – an appropriate time, therefore, for us to enjoy some light relief and humor!

More often than not, when thinking about important springtime holidays, we might mention Easter, but April Fool’s Day is an ancient tradition which has a presence around the world in many cultures.

Here in Wales, we play tricks on people, news outlets publish fake news and radio stations do their uptmost to deceive their audiences – but remember, the jokes must end by midday!

How, though, do other countries around the world celebrate April Fool’s Day..?

In France, the festival is referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish) and exactly the same festival, called pesce d’aprile, is celebrated in neighbouring Italy. In both France and Italy, school children try to attach a picture of a fish to their classmates’ backs and, when the fish is eventually discovered, the children will yell in unison “poisson d’avril” or “pesce d’aprile”.

In Denmark, there are two celebrations to mark the occasion – the first on the first of April, and the second is on the first of May; this second celebration is called Majkat (May cat).
Winter can be particularly harsh in the Scandinavian countries. Maybe that’s why the Danes, feeling such a sense of relief that winter has ended, celebrate the coming of spring twice with double the mischief!

But what about cultures beyond Europe?

Iran celebrates its new year at the end of March and, similarly to Chinese New Year, the festivities last longer than a day.
Sizdah Bedar is one of the celebrations observed during the Persian New Year, and it is believed that people have been playing tricks during this celebration for more than 2,000 years, which makes this the oldest fool’s day in the world – that we know of...
Usually, people will feast on a generous picnic, and there will be a lot of laughter, fun and, of course, jokes. After finishing the picnic – and putting a stop to the mischief – green vegetables, which represent possible illnesses and bad luck for the year ahead, will be thrown away to beckon in a year of good health and good luck.

All of these celebrations are a way of bidding farwell to winter and of looking forward to summer. This year, we certainly have a lot to look forward to in Cardiff, what with the various food and drink festivals on the horizon, the city’s annual music festival, Tafwyl, and the National Eisteddfod will be making its way to the Bay in August too. Plenty to keep us out of mischief!

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