The Fool tarot card

Humans Playing the Fool

April Fool’s Day, or April 1 on the calendar, plays a role in my Other Worldly novels because it’s post-middle-aged protagonist Rowan Layne’s birthday. I couldn’t have her be born on just any old day.

Fact is, April Fool’s Day, rife with pranks, is one of the most widely recognized non-religious holidays in the Western World, but nobody really knows why, so maybe the joke’s on us.

It’s apparently been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures despite its exact origins remaining a mystery. When you think about it, the origins of humans themselves—far too many of them fools—are a bit of a conundrum, though in my novels that mystery is revealed in book two, Feeling Alienated. And coming soon in Alien Sensation is the awful truth about human folly.

There are those who speculate that April Fool’s Day relates to when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. In the former, the new year began not on January 1, but with the spring equinox around April 1.

Some folks were slow to get the news, or slow on the uptake that the new year celebration had been pushed back by three months, hence they continued to party during the last week of March through April 1. This made them the butt of jokes and hoaxes wherein they were deemed April fools. And here we thought dealing with Daylight Saving Time was a challenge.

In this confusing time in France, pranks against these duped celebrants included having fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’Avril,” or April fish. This to symbolize an easily caught fish or a gullible person.

There’s also thought that April Fool’s Day was tied to the vernal equinox on the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere because that’s when Mother Nature fooled people with unpredictable weather.

In my Other Worldly novels there’s a mysterious species who like to screw with the weather to mess with humans. No one should call them foolish, but they’ve been known to make utter fools out of anti-alien ignorant bigots.

April Fool’s Day is also linked to festivals such as Hilaria, Latin for joyful so maybe I should name a happy planet this in my next novel. Celebrated in ancient Rome, it involved folks dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens and magistrates. Which brings to mind the bug getups for the Iridescent Insect War in Feeling Alienated…oh what fools those mortals become. Rowan is also prone to mocking unscrupulous members of the legal profession beginning with Alienable Rights. Because ethical erosion of Supreme Court judicial integrity is no laughable hoax.

As this jokester April 1 holiday spread throughout Britain during the 18th century, in Scotland it became a two-day event beginning with “hunting the gowk,” including people sent on phony errands. Gowk is apparently a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool. I wish I’d known this when I drafted Being Alien, set in Scotland, because there were plenty of cockwomble fools hunting Rowan therein, but is this really fair to the poor endangered cuckoo bird once thought to be extinct due to foolish human hubris?

After the gowk hunting came Tailie Day, when pranks were played by pinning tails and “kick me” signs on human hind quarters. Though I don’t condone this bullying, there are characters in the upcoming fifth novel, Alien Sensation, who deserve worse, some of them in Congress who desperately need to be kicked out.

In modern times, hoaxes perpetrated on April 1 in newspapers, radio, and TV have fooled a lot of audiences.  But when news breaks about aliens among us in Alienable Rights, it’s no hoax. Yet the willfully ignorant who deny their own otherworldly heritage most definitely play the fool, including the now former occupant of the White House. That maniacal moron is a particularly dangerous idiot when he launches a violent attack on April Fool’s Day, and it’s no joke. Alien inhabitants of his targeted aggression aren’t laughing when they seek retribution in Aliens Abound.

For subsequent April Fool’s Days, Rowan Layne celebrates in Maryland with a hunky hottie from Mars who shares her birthday, though he’s much younger. And then there’s the Red Orbiter triplets, also born on this momentous date. But are they really alien if born here, or is that just a foolish human concept of identity?

While at the triplets’ first birthday party in Alien Sensation, Rowan feels a bit like a fool for not recognizing an intriguing voice she’s apparently been hearing all her life.

Will this mystery alien yell “April fools!” when Rowan finally meets him? Find out in Alien Sensation, coming in time for the summer solstice. No fooling.

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