April Fools!

April Fools!

Have you ever wondered about the history of April Fools?  Well the origins of this tradition may date back to the common history of two nations which are still in the news today. By some accounts Israel and Iran are at the brink of war and events seem to be spiraling out of control. The history and dynamics surrounding the relationships of these two nations is fascinating and could well be the basis for the tradition of April Fools.

Nowruz, literally “new light” is the name of the Persian new year celebration which lasts twelve days.  It is celebrated in the spring and is closely related to the Spring Equinox. Historians say it has been celebrated for at least 3000 years. It is a joyous time of visiting family and friends.

On the 13th day of the New Year the Persian people celebrate Sizdah-bedar. Sizdah-bedar literally means getting rid of 13. It is often associated with bad luck and ill omen.  Many Persian families spend the day in the countryside. It is so widely celebrated that some towns seem deserted on this day.  This tradition can be traced as far back as the 6th century BC.  It is also celebrated in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Central Asia and Armenia.  On this day Persian’s play practical jokes on each other and some claim it is the basis for April Fool’s day. It is interesting to note that Sizdah-bedar is strangely absent from much of Persian history after it became part of the Muslim World in the seventh century.

About the same time Sizdah-bedar is first noticed historically in Persian culture the very same day is recorded as a day of infamy in Biblical tradition.   In the book of Esther, a Persian named Haman conceives a plan to destroy the Jewish people. As part of his preparations he starts casting Pur (lots) in the 1st month (Nisan) of the 12th year of the Persian king Ahasuerus. He continues with this ritual for 12 months. Then in the 1st month (13th month from when it began), in the 13th year of king Ahasuerus, on the 13th day of the month the king makes Haman’s plan to destroy all the Jews of the kingdom, law.  This day was Sizdah-bedar, the very same day which Persians for the last 2500 years have associated with bad luck.

Those familiar with the book of Esther know that the date for the extermination of the Jewish people was set for the13th day of 12th month of the 13th year of king Ahasuerus.  It was through the courage of Queen Hadassah (Esther) and her intervention on behalf of her people that a day meant for the destruction of the Jewish people instead became a day of destruction for their enemies.   For over 2500 years the 13th– 15th of Adar is remembered as a day of deliverance for the Jewish people in their celebration of Purim.

Ironic, isn’t it, that Sizdah-bedar, the day of getting rid of 13, was the day Haman was given permission to “get rid” of a nation of people who it could be argued consisted of 13 tribes.

So next time April comes around give a thought to one of the greatest April fools of all time.  Consider a man who had determined evil upon a whole race of people and ended up reaping what he had sown.

April fools indeed!

 

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6 thoughts on “April Fools!

  1. Richard Ritenbaugh

    One correction on your post: Haman was not a Persian. Esther 3:1 says that he was “the son of Hammadath the Agagite.” A check of I Samuel 15:8 shows that Agag was an Amalekite, a tribe that descended from Esau and that were Israel’s most intractable enemies. Even after Saul defeated the Amalekites, and Samuel killed Agag (doing what Saul had failed to do), Agag’s descendants held a perpetual grudge against Israel, and Haman saw his chance to get even in Shushan. (BTW, an “Agag” is also mentioned in Numbers 24:7. The reference seems to be to a very powerful king of the day or of recent memory. It has been suggested that this Agag was also an Amalekite king of great fame, who invaded Egypt after the Israelites left, taking over the weakened nation. Some of his successors took his name as a throne-name, just as the Egyptian kings were called Pharaoh [meaning “great house”] and Canaanite kings were called Abimelech [meaning “father-king”].)

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Richard,

      Thank you for your great contribution to my article. You are correct regarding Haman’s lineage. As a Persian official he was only a Persian in the most general sense. I should have made that clearer. I appreciate your help.

      Warm Regards,
      William Struse

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Queen of Persia – Part 1 | The 13th Enumeration

  3. Pingback: Queen of Persia – Part II | The 13th Enumeration

  4. Jahli

    I came across your site when Googling Queen Esther. My adehgtur is having a birthday party Saturday & we have decided (as of last year) that each year she wants a themed party, it has to be a Biblical theme or a historical one. Last year was Pocahontas & this year is Queen Esther (as close to a princess party as she could get). We also do Classical Conversations, so I am incorporating your ideas to use fo some teachable moments this week as we prepare for the party.

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Hi Jahli,

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know you found the information helpful. Happy to hear that. Good to hear from a fellow homeschooling parent.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply

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