March 31, 2011

The Origin of April Fool’s Day



Cochran Cornell, the Cantankerous Cockroach,

 contributed to this post

     As I recall, way back in time, the unicorn (I’ll call him Sanno) refused to board Noah’s Ark. Sanno was having too much fun bouncing about in the waves of the coming flood. His black, gold, and red horn bobbed up and down through the waves as he splashed, and was splashed, becoming more energetic as the waves increased in size.

     His joy was so great that he didn’t hear Noah’s last call. Noah reached a point of desperation, having to decide whether to sail on, leaving Sanno behind, or to try to rescue him. However, Sanno, swimming about, had swum so far from the ark that Noah realized, finally, that no matter what, he  couldn’t save Sanno, so he sadly sailed on, saving the other animals for future generations.

     Sanno didn’t realize he was missing the boat as he continued to dive in and out of the waves, nary a care in the world. What fun! That is, until he saw a giant wave moving towards him. Suddenly, he realized he might be endangered. He looked about for Noah’s Ark, but all he could see was a speck in the distance. Was that the Ark? It was impossible to tell.

     It didn’t matter. Sanno couldn’t get to the Ark, nor could he avoid the huge wave, one unlike he had ever imagined. It rolled upon him, over him, lifting him higher than he’d ever experienced before. He looked up—he was riding the top of it, and could see for miles! And all he saw was water. Where was all the land?

     He looked down and around. Debris swirled about him. Realizing he was in above his head, he grasped an uprooted olive tree. He was getting tired, so tired, from all his playfulness. He relaxed and tried to hold tight. His eyelids closed. He loosened his grip…

     The sun shone brightly as Sanno’s eyes fluttered open. The water was crystal clear, the surface mirror smooth. He didn’t know where he was, or how he had survived. But he had.

     The water receded rapidly, and soon Sanno stood on solid ground. No one was around to witness his survival. Except—

     Across the way was the most gorgeous creature he had ever seen. Pure white. Golden horn. She hadn’t noticed him as he drank in her beauty.

     The creature slowly rose from the lush vegetation that was her bed, wiping her eyes that Sanno saw were like pools of violets. Whatever had separated him from Noah, Sanno knew now it was right and good. Confirmation came as their eyes met. They moved slowly towards one another.

     “I’m Sanno. What might your name be?”


     The rest of the story, as they say, is history. They had two lovely children, Vindance and Jordmar, and grandchildren to replenish the earth with their kind.

     No one ever discovered the Edenic island. The world believed that unicorns disappeared when neither Sanno or Landra boarded the Ark. And this, my brothers and sisters, is the origin of April Fool’s Day: that anyone would believe that unicorns are passé is remarkable—a fool. They just haven’t found Unicorn Island.

     This is the story my long ago ancestor, Islo,, recorded in the family history. He was caught in the crevice of Sanno’s hoof as the unicorn splashed about in the water. When Sanno landed on the island, Islo managed finally to be shaken loose. He nestled in the back feathers of an osprey that was passing through, and reached civilization shortly after, where he spawned thousands of offspring, many of whom celebrated April Fool’s Day in recognition of Sanno and Landra, who brought fools to the belief that their kind no longer exists.  

       And that, my dear friends, is the origin of April Fool’s Day.   —–Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach


     Oh, there are historians and others who would have you believe otherwise.

     Persons speculating about April Fool’s Day notice similarities between it and other springtime renewal festivals, theorizing the day evolved from some such festival practiced in ancient times. Other theories of the celebration’s origin have take0ffs from the calendar.

    It is alleged “that the custom originated when King Charles IX reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from April 1 to January 1. People who continued to celebrate New Years on April 1 were mocked and had pranks played on them, thus initiating the custom of April 1st foolery. This has become, worldwide, the most popular theory of the origin of April Fool’s Day, despite its flaws.

     “The French also have a theory that traces the origin of the custom back to the abundance of fish to be found in French streams and rivers during early April when the young fish had just hatched. These young fish were easy to fool with a hook and lure. Therefore, the French called them ‘Poisson d’Avril’ or ‘April Fish.’ Soon it became customary (according to this theory) to fool people on April 1, as a way of celebrating the abundance of foolish fish. The French still use the term ‘Poisson d’Avril’ to describe April Fool’s Day pranks. They also observe the custom of giving each other chocolate fish on April 1.”*

     As you can see, theories about the origin of April Fool’s Day abound. Many are recorded at this web site: *

     But if you ask me, the version I heard from Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach is as plausible as any other. I’d like to think the mythical unicorn still exists in the children of Sanno and Landra. Wouldn’t you?


To order a copy of the unicorn photograph, email chollandnews @







THE CORPSE FLOWER (Amorphophallus titanum)—A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING-Is in Bloom

Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach has a category on this site:

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