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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?)


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
I heard the rule about noon a lot when I was growing up north of Toronto. Last night I was at a dinner party attended mostly by retired schoolteachers, and the subject came up. They speculated that the rule was invented by elementary school teachers, because the classroom chaos on April 1 can get tiresome after a few hours.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 09:32 am (UTC)
Growing up that was always my assumption too, probably because it was a teacher who told us the noon rule when classmates were getting unruly and small children who were victims of pranks might start to get upset.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
I knew and used the midday rule as a kid (I'm from near Liverpool); we even had a little rhyme about it:

"April Fool's is done and gone
You're the fool for carrying on."

But then I have five older siblings and preferred to have strict parameters set for pranks.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
Wow, I totally missed the noon rule. Why, I ask? Don't they know they're missing out on half the fun>?!
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
I only found out about the noon rule yesterday, after A. had played his prank on me. :P It made no sense to me, but the teacher explanation makes sense.

Just out of curiosity, will you be coming up to Chester next weekend?
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, arriving Thursday, leaving Monday. There's a food festival on in Chester that weekend too. My schedule's flexible, although I won't know quite want I want to do with the con until I read the schedule in greater depth.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough, had I been online yesterday, I'd have posted about this too - it's one of the little factoids in the useless Life in the UK test guide. I'm sure April Fool's never ended at noon in the US!

Apr. 2nd, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
The noon end to jokes was certainly what I was brought up with.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
Yep, doesn't count if its after noon... I hadn't realised this was an uncommon thing!
Apr. 2nd, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Certainly I've always known that April Fools rebound on the perpetrator(s) if carried out after noon. It's not quite the same with present-giving occasions, though it would be somewhat odd to give Christmas presents after lunch. And what are May Day baskets? You danced around the Maypole before Cromwell outlawed the practice; otherwise it's all seeing the sun rise to "perform the rites of May", like the singers on Magdalen Bridge...

Apr. 2nd, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)
May Day baskets are baskets - allowed to be made from paper, especially if you're a kid - usually filled with flowers (and/or candy and/or baked goods) that you leave on the doorsteps of people you liked, especially your friends. (It wouldn't surprise me if its origins were more romantic, but there wasn't much implied romance to distributing flowers to friends as a kid.) It's absolutely fine to leave the basket, ring the bell, and sneak off.

This random website emphasizes May Day baskets as good for friends and the elderly who might want some perking up.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
The more I browse, the more I think the ringing the bell-and-running away part is a traditional part of the activity.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
'doorbell ditch' was definitely part of the May basket routine when I was a kid.We had a Maypole dance too involving paper streamers and a tether-ball pole Now that I look back on it , the poor old neighbour lady who took ages to hobble to the door was probably thinking 'Hope its not another damned kid with a construction paper cone full of dandelions'

Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:35 am (UTC)
Now that one is completely new to me - I recall making Easter baskets when I was at primary school, but I've never encountered any gift-giving tradition for May Day. I think Cromwell and his puritans dealt that sort of thing too big a blow.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
I forgot all about that! I remember making them now, but can't remember much about them except the paper flowers.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
I had no idea!
Apr. 4th, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
I had no idea April Fool's Day was supposed to stop at noon!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )