April 2nd, 2007

Shiny Astrolabe

April Noon

Several weeks ago, I found a bag of chocolate fish (milk chocolate praline filling with white chocolate shell) at Hotel Chocolat and bought them in anticipation of April first. I have a merely intellectual interest in April fool's jokes, but a very real appreciation for the chocolate fish which are widely available to buy in Italy when the first of April approaches. The pesce d'aprile is often fully fish-sized, usually hollow, and foil wrapped to complete the nominal fish illusion.

Yesterday, reading blog posts while nibbling on chocolate fish, I came across the permanent account community's April fool's joke. And today, the followup. The gist of the followup is that many community readers failed to get the joke because it had been posted after noon. Most of these were British, although several commentators gave European examples as well.

That April First ends at noon was news to me. It's knowledge I've managed to miss despite living here for several years off and on. Do other European holidays end at noon? For those of you who celebrate Christmas, is it a hard rule that presents must be opened and mass attended before noon strikes? Are May Day baskets not allowed when afternoon arrives?

I'm also extremely curious as to why the noon rule developed anywhere and when. April Fool's day has reasonably old roots: does the noon rule? (Quick, get out your sundial. Can we still play the prank?)