Spring's the Thing

Most people think of April Fool's Day or Earth Day when they think of April, but there is so much more to ponder about this glorious month.

To begin with, April's birthstone is the diamond, and the flowers are the sweet pea and the daisy.

April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Peanut Butter, it turns out, was created in 1880 as a type of toothpaste. And the venerated PB&J began life in World War II when soldiers were given peanut butter instead of meat and, finding it difficult to eat, added jelly to make it more palatable, giving birth to a new all-American meal! Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich was one of Elvis Presley's favorite meals.

On April 26, we celebrate Richter Scale Day in honor of the birth of seismologist Charles F. Richter, who invented his scale in 1935 in order to measure earthquakes. Also celebrated on April 26, though totally unrelated, is World Tai Chi & Qigong Day.

April is even busier as a month! It is Alcohol Awareness Month, during which the Department of Health & Human Services asks us to recognize that alcohol abuse is a serious problem. In order to celebrate, you might consider mixing up a yummy non-alcoholic cocktail.

It is also National Autism Awareness Month, National Cancer Control Month, and International Guitar Month.

During the second full week of April, National Library Week is observed, and Volunteer Week is celebrated in the U.S. from April 27 through May 3 this year.

Passover this year is from April 20 through April 27. Passover is the Jewish festival of which commemorates the liberation of the Children of Israel from slavery and their exodus from Egypt. The name came from the fact that the Angel of Death "passed over" houses which belonged to Israelites.

April birthdays include Hans Christian Andersen on the 2nd, Marlon Brando and Eddie Murphy on the 3rd, Dorthea Dix on the 4th, Thomas Jefferson on the 13th, and Ulysses S. Grant.

Of course we were planning all along to include both April Fools' Day and Earth Day in this article.

The origin is obscure, but the most commonly accepted theory is that the first April Fools' Day was in 1582, the year that France adopted the Gregorian Calendar. That calendar moved the observance of New Year's Day from the vernal equinox, which was at the end of March, to January 1.

According to this theory, some of the more stubborn -- or perhaps ignorant -- continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. Perhaps because late night television monologues had not yet been invented, those who refused to accept the change were made the object of jokes, and their perceived foolishness spawned pranks.

There are actually two Earth Days.

In October 1969, John McConnell presented his idea for Earth Day to some San Francisco City Supervisors and other sympathetic community leaders.

In November of the same year, one of Mr. McConnell's Earth Day Committee youth leaders formally presented the concept at the UNESCO Conference on the Environment, along with the official Earth Day flag.

Earth Day proclamations were issued in San Francisco and other northern California cities, and the first Earth Day was celebrated in March of 1970.

On March 21, 1971 United Nations Secretary General U Thant rang the United Nations Peace Bell, officially starting the annual celebration of Earth Day at the United Nations. Following that tradition, the UN Peace Bell is rung at the moment Spring begins in the northern hemisphere.

At almost the same time, in September of 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson announced in Seattle that there would be a national environmental "teach-in" in the spring. The name "teach-in" was later changed to Earth Day.

Vernal Equinox celebrations can be traced back to Persia, Stonehenge, the Mayans, and even the early Chinese. It is the date when day and night are the same length.

And last, but most assuredly not least, don't forget that the IRS wants you to pay your taxes by April 15!

Additional resource sites for April:

  • United Nations - Association of governments who have agreed to maintain international peace and security and cooperate in solving international problems.
  • Earth Day - The official International Earth Day site
  • Internal Revenue Service - Everything you need to know about paying taxes, as well as forms and instructions for various forms.
  • Wikipedia: April - Comprehensive article about the month of April, including links for each day in the month.