BEWARE OF JESTERS & JITTERBUGS!
Or, …there’s a party with my name on it isn’t there?
By Penelope Bonkles, a quirky quidnunc, giggling gadfly and casual Goddess of Guffaw
Recently designated “cultural capital of Canada”, Victoria, British Columbia will host the “FIRST ANNUAL FEAST OF FOOLS”** on April 1, 2005.
April Fools’ Day, (not-your-average-festive-occasion), has been often been ignored by Canada’s high-profile personalities, the media, and puck-deprived people in general.
For history buffs, 135 years ago, Queen Victoria, (“she who must be obeyed” regarded ancient winter pagan partying traditions removed from the British calendar of holidays. The “Feast of Fools” (from the times of the Roman Saturnalia) was banished. It seems however that she forgot to ban another pagan party excuse and festive occasion full of white rabbits and “Easter Eggs”.
Besides bread and circuses, (invented to distract everyone from toppling tyrants in the “good old days”), something had to be done to let frisky folks vent a little. Some say “All Fools’ Day” began in 1852 in France with the reform of a crummy calendar (replaced by a giggle-oriented Gregorian one).
The change-experts of the day jumped on the bandwagon and began playing around with the good time occasions (which were becoming few and far between). The bad news was that the New Year’s celebration was moved from March 25th to January 1st, and the “Lords of Misrule” celebration held in mid-winter was moved to April 1st.
In those digitally-deprived days, news traveled about the speed of a donkey. Consequently far-flung folks on the Continent and in the British Isles weren’t informed of the changes for several years. To make matters worse, there were some testy types who dug their heels into the mud, refusing to play patty-cake cooperatively which made recognizing the decreed change of festive dates a tad difficult if not impossible.
Labelled as “fools” by the general population, these “inveterate ingrates” (as they were called by pedants and politicians) were frequently sent off on “foolish errands” or sent invitations to non-existent parties. These playful pranks (involving hanging a paper fish on the back of someone) became known as “poisson d’avril” (or April Fish). And as every fly-fisher knows early birds get the biggest worms, which makes catching minnows a rather easy meal to prepare (especially if there’s no golden arches in sight).
April Fools’ Day has now taken on an international flavor.
In Scotland, April 1st is called “Taily Day”, having to do with a penchant the kilted folk have for poking fun at the posteriors of others. The butts of these jokes are known as “Gowks” (or cuckoo birds).
In England, jokes are only played in the morning (along with their breakfast tea as it should be). Fools are referred to as “gobs”, while those who have been deceived by chicanery are called “noodles”.
In Rome the occasion, known as “The Festival of Hilaria” is marked on March 25h, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis (and is also referred to as “Roman Laughing Day).
In Portugal, April Fools’ Day is celebrated before Easter and usually involves throwing flour at ones friends.
In India on March 31, people celebrate the “Huli Festival” with playful pranks, sometimes involving colorful pints of paint.
Determined to revive the best titillating, tongue-in-cheek traditions of all cultures, FOPS (the Fools on Parade Society), will be organizing a special spoofing event to celebrate the vital role played by flaneurs, fools, fonkins in our society.
This eclectic evening of fun and frolic will delight all those who appreciate flagrant foppery and foolish activities with prizes for the best costumes, best funnybone performances, and trickster trivia plus some finger-licking good snacks for those wanting a taste of “Fool’s Paradise”.
A guest appearance by a lost-in-the-moat, ripsnorting royal pain in the butt by the name of “Victoria Elizabeth”, (and author of an award-winning humor blog) will highlight this night of nifty high jinks and hoodwinking hoopla.
Affectionately known as “The Quipping Queen” (and “Empress of Eccentricity”), not to mention “Patron of the Fools On Parade Society” (FOPS), she will be grinning a lot, signing autographs for an eclectic group of Empire Loyalists, and handing out all manner of odd titles, plus a few perfectly ridiculous certificates of meritorious merry-making.
So, on April 1st – Beware of Jesters & Jitterbugs! in hoity-toity homes, nudnick neighborhoods, or wonky workplaces. (You know …the flim-flam or frooncey folk with far too many saucy surprises under their boffo belts, hilarious hats, or puckish pinafores to keep a straight face).
** First Annual "Feast of Fools" - 7:00 pm, James Bay Coffee & Books, 143 Menzies Street, Victoria, BC. (Note: Proceeds will go to the volunteer vixens and delightful divas from the “Dialogue Strings Circle Society” of Victoria).
Tourism Victoria has graciously assisted in promoting this event. So for more information on this "hilarious happening" or other special events of interest, please see: http://www.tourismvictoria.com/Content/EN/436.asp?id=2796
To catch a glimpse of the elusive, jelly-jiggling jesters or jitterbugging jokers, take a wee peek at this gaudy-looking gem in our online giggle gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quippingqueen/6839103/
For those who can't make this guffaw gig, why not try creating your own merry meal menu (maybe a marvellous mirthful soup made from "Laughing Stock"??) Check out: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/family/feature/famf47FoolDinner/
And, if you need some "perky party pranks" to honor the fool in all of all drop by this fun centre: http://familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts/season/feature/famf39pranks/