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April Fool’s Day: from the massacre to the joke

Día de los Inocentes

Havana Cuba. — December 28 is, for many, the perfect occasion to organize pranks that they affectionately call “fools”. However, the commemoration of the “Innocent Saints” for Catholic Christians has an absolutely disastrous origin, not at all linked to the pranks that occur on this day, sprinkled with mischief, sarcasm and the odd excess. In Anglo-Saxon culture, this tradition is celebrated in April and is known as April Fool’s Day.

Many are unaware that the distinction of this date in the calendar was due to the killing, ordered by King Herod, of all children under the age of two in Bethlehem of Judea, with the purpose of assassinating little Jesus, called to become the King of the Jews by divine anointing.

It is difficult to relate that horrible tragedy with the jokes that people spend every December 28. However, although the word “innocent” is closely related to childhood, it was the Roman celebrations for the god Saturn that gave rise to the jokes, some very heavy, that take place every December 28.

Indeed, during this celebration the ruling class organized a game that consisted of inserting a bean into a piece of bread. Whoever found the seed would have the privilege of being a temporary king, with the right to play pranks on the rest of those present, and even commit abuses against the citizenry.

With the imagination of the Romans so fertile in matters of cruelty, it is easy to suppose that bawdy antics, as well as horrors, were the order of the day in honor of Saturn.

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