April Fool’s Day, Childish Mischief or Ingenious Merriment?

April Fools' Day
April Fools’ Day

 April Fool’s Day, Childish Mischief or Ingenious Merriment?

All Fools’ Day or April Fool’s is an ancient celebration with universal roots. A day perceived as cheerful and mischievous, childish and absurd, its appeal to the human sense of humor and intellect is what probably made it last throughout the years. Or perhaps that breaking down the general barriers for just one day and shining a different light on life is just the tonic humanity needs, thinks sociologist Jonathan Wynn.

 April Fool’s origin

2000 years ago Romans celebrated Hilaria (Latin for “happiness”) at the end of March, a day of fun and nonsense when people would dress up in disguises. The Northern Hemisphere displays unpredictable weather during this time of the year, playing tricks on people so here’s another speculation for April 1st as for centuries humanity took their cues from and looked for answers in nature. Around the same time Hindus celebrate Holi, the Festival of Color, one of the few non-religious Hindu celebrations of merrymaking and generally “letting loose”. The Jewish Purim, a lively and fun festival, is also celebrated mid-March. Surprising how this time of the year brings merriment and well-being all around the world!

Another explanation for April Fool’s is that during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine a group of court jesters proclaimed that they will be able to do a better job at running the empire than he did. In those times court fools were wise people, held in high regard. So Constantine played, along allowing Kugel the Jester to be king for one day. Kugel used his power wisely and proclaimed that day one of absurdity and trickery, thus putting life into a different light. His edict pleased the masses and it became an annual event – says BU Emertius Professor of History Joseph Boskin in this interview.

Professor Boskin actually prancked the American public with this story on April 1st 1983.

April’s Fools Practices around the World

In Scotland people are being sent in a “fool’s errand”, “hunting the gowk” usually with a sealed message reading

“Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile”.

The poor messenger is being sent from person to person becoming the gawk, a word used for cuckoo bird which symbolizes the fool.

In UK the prank is only being pulled by midday, the person playing the prank after that becoming the April Fools himself.

In Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands or French speaking nations around the world this day is called Poisson d’Avril, rooted in the 16th century with its change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. A paper fish is placed on people’s back symbolizing an easy catch, a gullible person.

Did you know?

Sugrophobia is the “fear of being suckered, tricked”, from “sugro” Latin for “to suck”.

Do’s and Don’ts on April Fool’s

Do plan ahead

Do help your little ones if they want to plan a prank but use your common sense

Do know the chemical substances you want to use

Do keep your hoax within moral limits

Do tell it’s an April Fool’s hoax as soon as you’re being asked

Do team up with your office mates

Do have fun and, remember, what goes around comes around

Don’t play the joke on your little children or your pets

Don’t resign as a joke

Don’t let a prank carry on for too long. It’s only fun if everybody is having fun.

Don’t experiment with potentially hazardous substances

Five of the best April Fool’s Hoaxes in history

  1. Prank Robbery, South Africa, 1952
    Four masked men entered a Stellenbosch bank and aimed water pistols at the staff shouting, “This is a holdup. Hand over the cash!” The alarm went off and the men threw the cash back, shouting “April Fool” then fled the scene in a car.
  2. Spaghetti Harvest, UK, 1957
    BBC broadcasted a three-minute segment featured a family from Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest, picking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. Time was of essence as a sudden change in weather could impact on the flavor of the spaghetti. This was 1957 when spaghetti was still an exotic delicacy in UK. Some viewers called in asking where they could get their own spaghetti bushes.
  3. A new island in the Indian Ocean, UK, 1977
    The British newspaper The Guardian runs a special seven-page report about a newly discovered nation in a remote part of the Indian Ocean called San Serriffe, with the capital Bodoni and ruled by General Pica. The republic’s two main islands are named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse and on an aerial view they look just like a semi-colon. The hoax was a huge success, with only a few people spotting that all the terminology was named after printers’ lingo.
  4. Google Translate for Animals, 2000
    In 2000 Google claimed they had come up with a new app called Google Translate for Animals. The app could decipher what your pet was barking, mewing, grunting or cheeping about. It also supplied a video that has been seen nearly 2 million times.
  5. Water Runways for airplanes, South Africa, 2012
    Kulula Airline announces that selected airports, Cape Town, Durban and soon, Hartebeespoort Dam in Gauteng will soon be operating water runways in an attempt to “curb rising airport traffic congestion and high airport taxes.” The departing gate will now be called a departing pier and instead of buses, the passengers will be ferried to the planes by water shuttles.
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Spilling The Beans: Why #PayWithAPoem Day Is For Everyone

The Poet-Tree, Robert Montgomery
The Poet-Tree, Robert Montgomery

Take me to Croatia on the 21st of March! I only need 12 hours. I need this time to feed my soul and my body; poetry for the soul, coffee for the body. And if not Croatia, then fly me to Turkey, UK or Romania!

On this day only one can pay with a poem for one’s cup of coffee.

Would you do it?

Did you know that one in five people believe poetry is for professional writers only?

Poetry excites the mind and enlightens the soul. You could say: “Whoa, Babe, poetry ahead!” or “Yay! Poetry!” Either way your eye acknowledged it and your mind engaged with it and your heart, most probably, slowed down its pace. “I know this”, it pulsed. “It is my language.” Because poetry is the universal language of our hearts.

Pay With A PoemDay is a fresh, new approach on literature. In 1999 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared March 21 World Poetry Day, celebrating writing, publishing, reading and teaching of poetry worldwide, as UNESCO says, to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.

Pay With A PoemDay has been initiated in 2013 by the Viennese manufacturer and coffee retailer Julius Meinl and all participating coffee sites are supported by a global campaign. If not lucky enough to be in a participating country on the 21st of March, you can follow it on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #PayWithAPoem and #PoetryForChange.

Read further on the Huffington Post SA, a post by Patricia Furstenberg

Huffington Post SA
HuffPostSA
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Why We Need A (New) Generation Of Readers in South Africa

Reading is linked to empathy, self-esteem and academic success, by Patricia Furstenberg
Reading is linked to empathy, self-esteem and academic success, by Patricia Furstenberg

“Readers are leaders”, said one great teacher; leaders of their own lives. Being able to understand what is expected of us beyond our job description or mastering those psychometric tests in a job interview could be life changing situations. Turning that first date into a success or having the ability to understand (and survive) our partner’s emotional needs are, definitely, lifesaving situations. What all of these occasions call for are our wits and… empathy. So relax; you’re not the odd one out if, at times, you feel for your boss. You should be celebrating instead.

Here’s when and why reading comes into our lives.

Read further on the Huffington Post South Africa, a post by Patricia Furstenberg.

Huffington Post SA

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South African Oscar Winners & Nominees Over The Years

South Africa’s official submission to the 89th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film category was Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief) directed by AFDA Alumni Daryne Joshua and his film debut as well.

View the Noem My Skollie Official Trailer.

IFrameThe 89th Academy Awards ceremony took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on February 26, 2017 and honored the best of the films of 2016.

Throughout the years many South Africans have won or been nominated to an Oscar, proof that this nation has plenty of deep-rooted talent as well as a good eye for the arts.

Proud South African Oscar wins, nominations and submissions throughout the years

1936 (the 9th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Basil Rathbone (South African born British actor) – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Romeo and Juliet

1938 – Basil Rathbone – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, If I Were King

1971 – Janet Suzman (University of the Witwatersrand’s Alumni) – Nominated for Best Actress, Nicholas and Alexandra

1985 – Caiphus Semenya (South African composer and musician)Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, The Color Purple

1987 – Jonas Gwangwa (important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years) Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, and Best Music, Original Song, Cry Freedom

Watch the Cry Freedom Official Trailer.

IFrame1989 (the 62nd Academy Awards Ceremony) Mapantsula (Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, English), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film. It appeared on the official AMPAS ( Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ) press release in 1989 but not on the 2007 updated list. Therefore Paljas is considered as South Africa’s official first submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is possible that Mapantsula, although submitted,has not been screened for the Foreign Film committee for some reason.

1997 Paljas (Afrikaans) – Director Katinka Heyns – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2003 – Charlize Theron (a Benoni born South African and American actress and film producer ) – WON Best Actress, the first South African to ever win an Oscar, for Monster

Charlize Theron’s 2003 Oscar Win acceptance speech.

IFrameI’m going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country… And my mom.

2003 – Ronald Harwood (Cape Town-born playwright) – WON for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Pianist Harwood’s love for the theatre and films started when he was a child and his mother took him to the theatre in Cape Town.

2004 Yesterday (the first ever feature-length isiZulu film), Director Darrell Roodt Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film

2005 – Charlize Theron – Nominated for Best Actress, North Country

2005 (78th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Tsotsi – WON Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first non-French-language African film to win in this category

View Tsotsi Official Trailer.

IFrameGavin Hood’s Oscar acceptance speech for Tsotsi, which he directed:

Nkosi sikelele Africa. God bless Africa.

Our stories … are about the human heart and emotion.

2008 Jerusalema (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Sotho), Director Ralph Ziman – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2009 White Wedding (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English), Director Jann Turner – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2010 District 9, Director Neill Blomkamp (South African–Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator) – Nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)

2010 Life, Above All (in Northern Sotho), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film, made the January Shortlist. Life, Above All received 10-minutes standing ovations at its world premiere at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival.

2011 Beauty (Afrikaans), Director Oliver Hermanus – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2012 – Herbert Kretzmer (South African-born English journalist and lyric writer) Nominated for Best Music, Original Song for Les Misérables, song “Suddenly” (together with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg)

2012 Little One (Zulu), Director Darrell Roodt – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2013 Four Corners (Afrikaans), Director Ian Gabriel – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2014 Elelwani (Venda), Director Ntshavheni wa Luruli – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2015 – Margaret Sixel (South African-born, Australian film editor )WON Best Film Editing, Mad Max: Fury Road

2015 – The Two of Us (Zulu), Director Ernest Nkosi – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film

2016 (89th Academy Awards Ceremony) Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief), (Afrikaans), Director Daryne Joshua – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.

Noem My Skollie producer, Moshidi Motshegwa, said referring the support the cast and crew received at home :

The greatest affirmation an artist can get is from their own tribe. We are ecstatic to have this affirmation!

The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was first awarded in 1956. For its 89th edition there have been 85 submissions from all over the world.

Although South Africa hasn’t brought an Oscar home this year what really matters are the passion and dedication of each actor, director, make-up artist, costume designer, editor, of the entire crew backing-up a motion picture which puts South Africa, proudly, on the Academy Awards map once again.

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Living At The Cultural And Technological Crossroad

Even though two people speak the same language, having come from different cultures, their understanding of the spoken language will be different.

Read further on the Huffington Post South Africa.

Huffington Post SA

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Waiting for Snow

Waiting for Snow

Waiting for Snow Image courtesy Unsplash
Waiting for Snow
Image courtesy Unsplash

Dad cheerful said: “We’ll have Snow tomorrow!”

So my human pup and I, brave Eskimos,

Early before breakfast went down below

And sat by the window, waiting for snow.

 

It must be someone special, went through my head,

Since we could, this morning, and quite by chance,

Not eat at the table. “Toast! Can I have some more?”

“On one condition: not a crumb on the floor!”

 

I’m looking left, towards the deep, dark woods.

I’m looking right, towards the town with goods.

Where will she come from, Mrs. Snow?

Will she take the bus? Will she arrive by noon?

 

There’s a little bus station right by our house,

It’s busy in the morning, you couldn’t spot a mouse.

Buses stop here often throughout the day.

But Snow doesn’t get off. What’s causing her delay?

 

Maybe she’ll ride a bicycle, red and bright and shiny.

Like the postman does each day, even when it’s rainy.

Maybe she’ll come by yellow taxi, honking any minute.

Like the doctor does; arriving in an instant.

 

But what if Snow will just walk here, like grandpa likes to do.

“Exercise is good for you, I’m never sick with flue!”

He always tells my human pup and winks at her some more.

Grandpa’s old and wrinkled; his exercise advice might work!

 

What if Snow arrives at tea time? Mom always sais to us:

“It’s fashionable to do so, but always come announced!”

Aunts and quite so many Ladies visit once a week.

And tea, cookies and cakes, so yummy, they always like to eat.

 

Who is this Snow? Nobody mentioned her before!

Why is she coming? Did Mom even agreed?

My human pup expects her to play games;

I just want to know: will she throws sticks, twice in a row?

 

Will she tell bedtime stories and like pups like me?

Is she a stern or friendly Lady? I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Will she share crumbs? And mostly,

Where will she sleep, if feeling lonely?

 

It’s way past lunch, we waited for sooo long.

My human pup is restless, Mom even hums a song.

I’ll tell Snow, when I’ll meet her, whenever that will be,

That being late is a no-no, please Ma’am, excuse me.

 

She didn’t come at all and it’s already time for bed.

Pajamas on, the story read, my human pup still sad.

“She’s here!” shouts Mom, so excited. “Hurry, get dressed!”

Get dressed? Go OUT? Why everyone’s so restless?

 

Is Snow a President?  What do I say, maybe she’s the Queen!

For all I know, from what I’ve seen, she’s a most expected being!

I won’t mention being late, but offer her some tea.

I only hope she brings presents, a little bone for me?

 

by Patricia Furstenberg

This is an edited version of the poem initially written for mypuppyclub.net

 

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10 Enchanting Christmas and Bedtime Books for Babies and Young Readers

Redtricycle Spoke Contributor
Redtricycle Spoke Contributor

10 Enchanting Christmas and Bedtime Books for Babies and Young Readers

When my daughter was six month old I began reading to her “The Little Duckling.” We would cuddle together every day and enjoy the little bird’s adventures of bravery. It was a magical time for me and for my daughter as well. Later on she would look excited just seeing this book!

My son loved the touch and feel story of a puppy. It was a board book and, no matter how hard I tried, he would always put it in his mouth. I guess that’s what board books are for! He loved the touch of the puppy’s fur on the cover and, mostly, having his family around him at story time.

Later on I would read to both my children Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway Tree” and to this day my teen children remember the warm, fuzzy evenings and the big book we shared and delighted in together.

Continue reading Pat’s article on the Redtricycle website.

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The newly adopted puppy: Time Out (Puppy Story – part 4)

The newly adopted puppy: Time Out

Dog digging
Dog digging? Oh no!

I’ve got to be quiet; I’ve got to lie still. They didn’t put me in a corner, but they did give me… time out. Only inside…

It was because of shredding the newspaper to bits on Sunday morning… and bumping over the trash can in the kitchen, which spilled the garbage…

I only tried to clean up!

Oh, and for scratching Mom’s bedroom door. But I tried to get in! It was a matter of life and death! It was past breakfast time and everybody was still sleeping!

I’m in the hallway now, on the carpet. This one is a rough carpet, not soft like the one in our bedroom. It tickles my tummy. I’ve got to scratch.

But I’ve got to sit still.

Oh, the carpet itches. My tummy itches.

“Sit still, puppy!” Mom had said…

But I’ve got an itch. Just one scratch?

Quick, while nobody’s watching.

Thump! Bang!

“Puppy!”

“The umbrella stand?! Whatever next?!”

I lay flat on the carpet. I wish I could melt in it and disappear.

I really didn’t, didn’t, didn’t want to bump it over!

It was just an itch.

A big itch and I’m a small puppy.

I’ve got to be quiet; I’ve got to lie still.

Now I’m outside.

Time out SHOULD take place outside? It only makes sense.

Mom hasn’t told me to sit still; she just opened the door and pointed outside. But I want to. To show her I’m a good puppy.

What does a good puppy do? I wonder if my friend Mole knows. He seems to know so much… There he is! He’s always busy digging. He’s such a good digger, he keeps all the plants fresh, Mom’s flowers pretty.

Mom loves flowers.

Maybe that’s what I should do! Pick some flowers for her. Dad brought her flowers last week and she was so happy she danced!

If I should make her so happy she’ll forget all about being upset with me!

I’ll do it! For Mom!

Here, a mouthful of flowers for Mom; freshly picked!

Flowers for Mom
Flowers for Mom

They did got a bit squashed in the process, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

“Mom, my puppy’s barking outside the door! Can I please let him in now? I’m sure he learned his lesson.”

“Puppy!! My flowers! And LOOK at ALL this mud! PUPPY!”

by Patricia Furstenberg

Initially wrote for mypuppuclub.net.

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It is my first Sunday in my new home (Puppy Story – part 3)

It is my first Sunday in my new home

First Sunday Morning
First Sunday Morning

It is my first Sunday

In my new home

I open my eyes,

My human still sleeps.

 

I’m hoping for some bacon smell,

For the kettle to hum.

No flavor coming up,

No noises at all.

 

The house is quiet,

What could be the matter?

Surely IS the right time

For food on the table?

 

My human pup snores,

Sounds just like a baby kettle.

I lick her ear;

She doesn’t budge.

 

I jump off the bed,

I am on a mission.

To wake everyone

Before it’s too late.

 

I grab at her blanket;

It is a pup’s play

To pull it off the bed

And onto the floor.

 

But this puppy is small

And the blanket is heavy.

I try my best

And head for the door.

 

I listen for noises:

Where is Mom’s room?

That is the only room

I haven’t been into.

 

“No puppies in here.”

I remember the rule.

But surely for emergency

We can bend it a bit?

 

The door is closed

But I push with my nose.

I push with my paws,

I push with all my might.

 

I’ve got to get it open.

I’ve got to get inside.

They have to wake up,

It’s well past their time.

 

I can’t open the door.

It’s too heavy for me.

My paws slide off,

I even hurt my snout.

 

I whimper, I cry.

As quietly as can be.

Surely they will hear me,

Open for me?

 

A thump at the door!

Someone’s outside!

I’ve got to protect them!

Stand up for my pack!

 

I run down the stairs.

It was a big mistake;

My paws slide,

My bum gets ahead.

 

Thump! My bottom hits the floor

Then my head hits the carpet.

I need a second

To regain my balance.

 

No time to spare,

Someone’s at the door!

I’ve got to protect my family,

I’m heading ahead.

 

I’ll bark and I’ll fight.

I’ll tear them apart!

This is my home!

It’s under my guard!

 

Silence.

Whoever it was,

It got scared.

I am sure.

 

Such a vicious pup

Got them on the run!

They got so scared,

Didn’t even come inside.

 

They left just one thing,

Small item behind.

A paper! I’ll show them!

I grab it right away.

 

I’ll fight and I’ll bite

And if they dare come back,

They’ll see what’s waiting for them.

And be scared of me!

 

Good, now the paper is gone.

What did Father said?

Garbage belongs with garbage.

I’ll clean up in a sec.

 

Such a big mess

And such a small pup.

I’ll do my best,

Let me find the trash.

 

It’s easy to spot it,

My nose takes me straight.

There’s the trash can,

Hidden in the darkest place.

 

Sooo big,

Me, so short.

But I’ve got to clean

The shreds from the floor.

 

I jumped. It fell.

BUMP!

Its lid came off.

More trash rolled onto the floor.

 

Footsteps upstairs! Coming down the stairs!

I’ve got to hide,

But where? Where?

Sorry about the mess!

 

I had to protect…

I had to protect
I had to protect

by Patricia Furstenberg

Initially wrote for mypuppuclub.net. Images courtesy Unsplash

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The newly adopted puppy: The Worm. (Puppy Story – part 2)

The newly adopted puppy: The Worm

Looking for my doggy treasure.
Looking for my doggy treasure.

I love my new place.

I love it during my sleep for I can smell my human pup cuddled tight against me. She smells of milk and of love, the stuff sweet dreams are made of.

I love my new place in the moments just before I wake up, when the aroma of freshly cooked breakfast creeps through under the door and through the keyhole, conquering our bedroom. What better way to start the day but knowing what sorts of scraps will fly off the table? And if I catch the titbits before Mother ever sees us I get a pat and a scratch behind my ear for showing such super skills! For it is against the house rules to feed me like this, but my human pup loves me so much she shares everything with me.

I share with my human pup too.

My new place comes with a big yard, so big that if I run all around once my tongue spills out of my mouth in search of water, so tired I am. It took me a few whole mornings to sniff all around it and learn it off by heart.

At its far end, by the corner of the fence, my new friend lives, Mr. Mole. He likes to dig tunnels through the ground and to share his wiggly worms with me. Nobody seems to feed him so I share some of my tasty morsels with him. I hope he likes them; he keeps on burying them into his tunnels.

It was here that I found the biggest, juiciest worm!

It made me remember my human pup and her toes. Mother calls them wiggly worms and she keeps on counting them each night at bedtime. I thought how she would laugh to discover an extra one! Would she be able to tell the difference? I thought not; they smelled the same to me.

That night I found out that…

Mothers can scream VERY loud.

I still want to make my human Mother laugh; when she does so she smells so much more of love. I’ll have to find something else to share next time.

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