Today in History: April 1

Every
Year
April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 274 days remaining until the end of the year.
Every
Year
April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) is celebrated every year on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes expose their prank by shouting “April Fool!”. Some newspapers, magazines, and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.

The first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness appears in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392).

Every
Year
Edible Book Day

The International Edible Book Festival is an annual event usually held on or around April 1, which is also known as Edible Book Day. The global event has been celebrated since 2000 in various parts of the world, where “edible books” are created, displayed, and small events are held. The creations are photographed and then consumed. The event was initiated by Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron in 2000.

The official website Books2Eat.com says that the International Edible Book Festival is held to commemorate “the birthday of French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826), famous for his book Physiologie du Goût, a witty meditation on food”, though April Fools’ Day is also related as “the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the ‘books’ are consumed on the day of the event”. (See The Phantom Tollbooth for more information about eating one’s words.)

The participation rules per the official site are:

  • The event must be held on April 1 or around it.
  • “All edible books must be ‘bookish’ through the integration of text, literary inspiration or, quite simply, the form.”
  • “Organizations or individual participants must register with the festival’s organization … and see to it that the event is immortalized on the international festival website (www.books2eat.com).”
Every
Year
Fossil Fools Day

Fossil Fools Day is an environmental demonstration day. It occurs on April 1. The name is a play on the term fossil fuels and April Fools’ Day. Fossil Fools Day began in 2004 with coordinated actions across the United States and Canada. Subsequent Fossil Fools Days have been held in many cities around the world, and are generally organized by one or more environmental organizations with funding from Energy Action Coalition and Rising Tide. These events oppose energy derived from fossil fuels, promote education about alternative sources of energy, and encourage support for climate justice, strong legislation, corporate responsibility and a clean renewable energy future.

Every
Year
Kha b’ Nisan, the Assyrian New Year (Assyrian people)

Kha b’ Nisan, also known as Ha b’ Nisin, Ha b’ Nison, Resha d’Sheta (“First of April”), “Head of the Year” in Assyrian, also known as Akitu, or Assyrian New Year is the spring festival among the Assyrians, celebrated on April 1. Celebrations involve parades and parties. Some Assyrians wear traditional costume and dance in parks for hours. In Europe, the United States and Canada, there are often parties with food, music and dance.

The Assyrians, also known as Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Arameans, are an indigenous people in the Middle East.

33 CE Jesus’ Last Supper, as calculated by Sir Colin Humphreys.

In 2011, in his book The Mystery of the Last Supper, Sir Colin Humphreys (May 24, 1941– ) claimed that the Last Supper took place on a Wednesday (Holy Wednesday) rather than on Thursday (Maundy Thursday) as is traditionally thought. He claims that the apparent timing discrepancies (Nisan 14 or 15) between the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke versus the gospel of John are rooted in the use of different calendars by the writers. Mark, Matthew and Luke appear to use an older, Egyptian-style Jewish calendar (still used today by the Samaritans) while John appears to refer to the newer, Babylonian-style Jewish calendar (still in use by modern Jews). The Last Supper being on Wednesday would allow more time for interrogation and presentation to Pilate prior to the crucifixion on Friday than given in the traditional view. Humphreys proposed the actual date for the Last Supper to be April 1, 33 CE.

1545 Potosí, Bolivia was founded after the discovery of major silver deposits in the area.

Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world at an elevation of 13,343 feet (4,067 meters). For centuries, it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint. Potosí lies at the foot of the Cerro de Potosí, sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”), a mountain popularly conceived of as being made of silver ore. The Cerro Rico is the reason for Potosí’s historical importance, since it was the major supply of silver for Spain during the period of the New World Spanish Empire. The silver was taken by llama and mule train to the Pacific coast, shipped north to Panama City, carried by mule train across the isthmus of Panama to Nombre de Dios or Portobelo whence it was taken to Spain on the Spanish treasure fleets. Cerro de Potosí’s peak is 15,827 feet (4,824 meters) above sea level.

1826 Samuel Morey received United States Patent 4,378 for a compressionless “Gas or Vapor Engine”. This is also the first recorded example of a carburetor.
1976 Apple Inc. was formed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in Cupertino, California, United States.
1976 Conrail began operations from bankrupt railroads in the Northeastern United States.

The Consolidated Rail Corporation, commonly known as Conrail (reporting mark CR), was the primary Class I railroad in the Northeast U.S. between 1976 and 1999. Conrail is a portmanteau made of the first syllables of “Consolidated” and “Rail” in the name of the company.

Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976 not by a standard merger, but as a new government corporation that took over only designated lines and other rail-related assets from the existing bankrupt companies. Seven major companies were included, along with most railroads that had been leased or controlled by them, sometimes jointly:

  • Penn Central Transportation Company (reporting mark PC), successor to the New York Central Railroad (reporting mark NYC), New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (reporting mark NH), and Pennsylvania Railroad (reporting mark PRR)
  • Erie Lackawanna Railway (reporting mark EL), successor to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (reporting mark DLW) and Erie Railroad (reporting mark ERIE)
  • Ann Arbor Railroad (reporting mark AA), controlled by Penn Central
  • Central Railroad of New Jersey (reporting mark CNJ)
  • Lehigh and Hudson River Railway (reporting mark LHR)
  • Lehigh Valley Railroad (reporting mark LV), controlled by Penn Central
  • Reading Company (reporting mark RDG)
1997 Comet Hale-Bopp reached its perihelion.

Comet Hale-Bopp, officially labeled C/1995 O1 and probably the best-remembered bright comet for most people in the Northern Hemisphere, reached its perihelion (closest point to the sun) on April 1, 1997. It was 0.9 astronomical units (AU, or Earth-to-Sun distances) away from the sun on that day. Although its brightness was dispersed across a wider area than stars, its brightness exceeded that of any star in the sky except for Sirius, the sky’s brightest star.

Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered on July 23, 1995 by two independently observing amateur astronomers: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. At that time, the comet wa 7.2 AU from the sun, which made it the most distant comet to ever be discovered by amateurs up until that time.

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