Religious holidays and history.

2004-04-01 02:00

A recurring theme in apologetics debate is the cycle of claims that Holiday X, whatever X may be, was originally a pagan celebration, only recently coopted by Christians. We’re told that Easter was originally the Equinox Festival, or originally Oestre, and celebrated the rebirth of a goddess. We’re told that Christmas was a winter solstice festival. Saint Nicholas was originally some other godling. And so on, and so forth.

After months of painstaking research, I think I can finally stake one of these through the heart and lay it to rest. I have found conclusive evidence that April Fools Day is, in fact, a Christian holiday through and through, first celebrated by Christians, and that no pagan holiday similar to it has ever been observed.

AFD may be traced back in its origins to Pope Joan, who, just before Easter in the first year of her appointment as Pope, revealed to those assembled that she was, in fact, a woman who had snuck into the church as a practical joke many years previously. After the belly laughs had died down, the consensus was reached that the joke had, indeed, justified the few irregularities involved in reaching this point. Since then, the Catholic Church has always allowed people to commit sins as long as they are for AFD jokes.

When people attempt to describe AFD as a Pagan holiday, it is most often connected to the Spring Solstice, a holiday which cannot possibly be celebrated, because it’s an astronomical impossibility. The next most common apparent cognates are to be found in the Discordians and the Subgenii. However, despite the similarity of names between the Discordian “Eris” and the ancient Greek goddess Eris, there is no evidence of any kind of continuity between the two cults. While modern Discordians do, indeed, celebrate AFD, they appear to have acquired it from existing Christian practice; indeed, in this case, it’s the pagans who have coopted a Christian holiday!

Perhaps the most interesting comparison is with Mad Hatter Day, celebrated on October 6th of every year. This holiday, however, is very recent; it dates back only to 1986. Even more curiously, it’s celebrated on June 10th in Britain. However, it’s much more recent.

Another source lists AFD as being rooted in some ancient, but unspecified, pagan practice. This usenet post illustrates the claim. The author cites no sources, and indeed, being a Usenet poster, is probably not competent to cite sources even if he had any. This unsubstantiated claim may be safely ignored.

The only remaining question is the apparent fondness for practical jokes of the cult of Mithras. However, the research on this turns out to depend entirely on one person’s unsupported speculations; there’s simply no hard archeological evidence to support it. In fact, most disturbingly, the research itself was first published on April 1st, which suggests that the entire thing may be a hoax.

In short, the Christians can rest easy. This is their holiday, and they can celebrate it freely.

Peter Seebach

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Comments

  1. Google celebrates every holiday; what do they have against Christians that they're ignoring this one?
    (seebs' mom)

    — linsee · 2004-04-01 10:12 · #

  2. Sorry, I take it back. They haven't decorated their o's, but there is this:

    http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/gmail.html

    — linsee · 2004-04-01 10:18 · #

  3. And Google is hiring for its new facility. I especially like the life support system . . . .

    http://www.google.com/jobs/lunar_job.html

    — seebs_lawyer · 2004-04-01 17:20 · #

 
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