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Hilaria: A Fool's Moment

April's Newsletter - To read the full newsletter visit Cerridwen's Cauldron via the link at the bottom of the post.

Merry Met Virtual Traveller

Come with me across the channel through the busy shipping ports to the home of fine wine, cheese boards and the Eiffel Tower, and where April 1st was once the start of the year. There are many suggested origins for April Fool’s Day and one of them is that when the Gregorian calendar was introduced, in the late 1500s and the beginning of the year became 1st January, in France, those who did not adopt this new calendar were referred to as April Fools.

Others look to a much earlier origin in the Roman festival of Hilaria, celebrated around the same time as the Vernal Equinox. This was a festival that relished the coming of the light and the longer days, and involved the wearing of disguises, rejoicing, merrymaking and everyone played the fool.

April Fool’s Day gradually became predominantly and in the 18th century this was frequently celebrated by sending someone an invite to go and watch the washing of the lions at Buckingham Palace.

Today you’re more likely to be sent for a tin of tartan paint and in many businesses it’s a content creators chance to have fun, laugh with their audience and see if anyone will actually believe whatever story they have concocted.

There are many stories of fools and foolish behaviour in folktales but for the purposes of this little missive I will stick to fools in English folktales where the protagonists are usually called Jack or Tom.

My favourite Jack tales include the classic Jack The Giant Killer, who was foolish enough to state he had killed ‘seven in one blow’, without qualifying that the seven referred to flies, and the ever so famous Jack And The Beanstalk, the tale of a boy who swaps a cow for beans. In both these cases Jack ends up the winner in the story proving he isn’t so foolish after all. I often wonder if there were any sequels though. ‘Jack Spends All the Giant’s Gold’ or “Jack Kills His Last Giant’ aren’t such catchy titles.

As for the Toms they tend to appear in tales where they do not head warnings, often involving the boggarts and bogles of the UK marshes such as Long Tom & The Dead Hand. They too manage to avoid too much calamity, however they don’t always come out of the tale quite as well as Jack.

But what about tales of foolish women? Yes, it’s true we can be foolish too. My favourite of these tales is Clever Elsie. A strong lesson in overthinking in this one, which is just a foolish as not questioning whether or not the beans are indeed magic!

Many stories of fools were collected by Joseph Jacobs a collector of English folktales and the German folktale collectors, Jacob and Willhelm Grimm. If you would like to read more about any of these stories click on the story titles that are underlined and a link will take you to it.

I hope You April the 1st has brought you much fun and hilarity this year and that you’re not still looking for that tartan paint. Read on to find out what news events and recommended reads I have for this month.

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