Liam – April 3, 2018
There are a lot of origin stories for April Fool’s Day. One is that the first day of the year was once considered April 1, and when the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day to January 1, those who refused to adapt were called fools. That’s kind of like the whole Marshall Field’s vs. Macy’s and Sears vs. Willis Tower debates in Chicago today. (Although, which side is the foolish one on these issues is far more contested.)
What is agreed upon throughout the world, regardless of calendars and who has naming rights to what building in the Second City, is that April 1 is April Fools’ Day — a day for pranks and jokes, practical or otherwise.
Denmark celebrates April Fool’s Day, or Aprilsnar, as you would expect: friends and family members try to best each other through humorous deception. April Fools’ Day is observed throughout most of the world so similarly from country to country, you’d think the UN would seize this likeness as an opportunity to begin serious discussions for world peace. Alas…a fool can hope.
All day, all over the world and online, a lot of jokes were made by the media and the product brands we all love. My personal favorite this year was that Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda was adapting the cult hit film The Room into a Broadway musical. I’d almost prefer to see that than world peace!
Although there weren’t any jokes or pranks out of Denmark making the lists this year, the Danes’ sense of humor is, ahem, no joke. I mean, just look at the photo above from Aprilsnar a few years ago.
Denmark is also the only country that celebrates two joke days. Exactly one month after April Fools’ Day is Majkat.
Majkat is not as popular as Aprilsnar, but from my point of view, Majkat is a whole lot funnier when you look at its origin. According to the Danish Wikipedia, April is the Narra month, “which, with its Nordic weather, welcomes anyone who thinks the spring is on its way. Only after May 1 can you count on the Danish weather.” So basically, in Denmark you’re a fool if you think spring arrives even within a month of the Equinox.
And, again, kind of like Chicago, right? Which got me thinking…
I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Isabella Sandler (I call her Fafa Izzy), one of The Danish Home founders, but it’s obvious to me that she and the other founders recognized the Danish creature comfort that is a long, miserable winter and knew that Chicago would make a great place to call home. Of course, maybe putting roots in another place that has such vicious winters is some kind of everlasting Aprilsnar or Majkat. And if so, that deserves to top every April Fool’s list every single year.
What I do know is that April Fool’s Day, which shared the calendar with Easter this year, was celebrated at The Danish Home. In addition to residents doing April Fool’s Day puzzles (was a piece missing from each one?), laughter and jokes were shared by all during The Danish Home’s Easter feast. And just like in Denmark, the good-natured ribbing and affection for a hearty laugh is not restricted to Aprilsnar or Majkat next month.
Residents of the Danish Home of Chicago are always up for a little fun, and a little funny, whether they’re visiting in the garden, sharing a meal together, on an outing, or any time.
And I like to think that’s exactly what Fafa Izzy had hoped for all those years ago.