The month of April: holidays, folklore and traditions13 min read
“April cold with dripping rain
Willows and lilacs brings again,
The whistle of returning birds,
And trumpet-lowing of the herds.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)
By April, spring has finally sprung, and if we’re lucky, the weather will reflect that.
We hope that your sky is bright and clear and your grass is growing green.
In celebration, check out the month’s holidays, fun facts, monthly pink full moon, folklore and more!
The month of April gets its name from the Latin word aperio, or aperire, meaning “to open (bud)”. April is, after all, the month when in the northern hemisphere buds begin to open and things start to grow again after the winter.
Eostre monath or Eastremonath was the Anglo-Saxon name for the month, and the name of the Christian Festival of Easter comes from this Anglo-Saxon word.
Still, originally this month’s name was Aphrilis, in honor of the goddess Aphrodite, to whom the celebrations of this period were dedicated.
In Iceland they called it Einmánuður, the lonely month, as it was the last of the inveral period.
In the attic calendar, this period had the name of Helaphēboliṓn, because of Elaphebolias, a festival dedicated to Artemis and the deer, her sacred animal. In this occasion, cakes made in the shape of a deer were offered to the goddess.
In Finland it was Huhtikku, a term related to the custom of cutting down wild plants and burning them to make the fields fertile.
Even in China, the emperor and the royal family performed a ritual that saw them plowing the fields, to make harvest propitious. In Chinese tradition, this period was called Táoyu è (桃月), meaning Peach Month. Peach is a fruit with immense beneficial powers, as the irreverent monkey Sun Wukong knew well. He ate a large amount, after taking them from the heavenly gardens of Goddess Xi Wang Mu.
In Jewish tradition, from the second half of March to the first of April is Nisan (נִיסָן), the first month of the year, which carries ancient echoes of the Sumerian tradition, where Nisag means First Fruits.
In Japan, it is called Uzuki (卯月), the month of white flower u-no-hana. In general, this is a seasonal moment linked to blooming: even in Slovenia, the name used is Mali Traven, which refers to plant growth.
In India, this month is called Mina (मीन), meaning Fish, thus related to the zodiac tradition.
Finally, it should be remembered that for many ancient peoples months were marked by lunar phases, so even the calendars varied according to the Moon and didn’t always start on the same day.
April begins with a day of fun and jokes – April Fool’s Day, on April 1, otherwise known as “All Fools’ Day”. Where did this silly day come from?
The 1st Sunday in April is called Daffodil Sunday. In Victorian times families picked daffodils from their gardens and took them to local hospitals to give to the sick.
April 2 is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter and the last Sunday of Lent.
The beginning of Holy Week, this Christian holiday marks the day when Christ rode into Jerusalem a week before his death and resurrection and was greeted by its people, who strewed cloaks and tree branches along his path to honor him as their king.
Nowadays, Palm Sunday service often includes the blessing of palm leaves (or substitute branches from yews, willows, or other plants) before a procession into or in the church, after which hymns are sung and readings that focus on Christ’s final week are given. In many Christian denominations, palm fronds are burned at the end of the service; the ashes are saved for use on the next Ash Wednesday.
April 5 is the start of Passover, which begins at sundown on this day, an annual weeklong festival commemorating the emancipation of Jewish peoples from slavery (in ancient Egypt). The Hebrew name, Pesach, means “to passover” because the plague in Egypt that killed all first-borns passed over the Israelites’ homes, sparing the lives of their children.
On 6 April there used to be Candle Auctions.
A candle was lit and a pin stuck in it about two and a half centimetres from the top, then people would start bidding for a piece of church land to let to the poor for a year. The person bidding when the candle burned down enough to let the pin fall became the owner of the land.
April 7 is Good Friday (Learn more about Good Friday).
April 9, in 2023, is Easter Sunday, while April 24 is Orthodox Easter.
Did you know that Easter’s date is related to the full Moon?
Well, Easter usually comes in the month of April. It is what is called a ‘moveable feast’ because the date of it is fixed according to the moon. Easter Sunday has to be the first Sunday after the full moon which means that Easter can fall as early as 22 March or as late as 25 April .
In the late 19 century, 19 April was celebrated as Primrose Day in memory of British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, who died on this day in 1881. People were encouraged to pay tribute to the statesman by wearing primroses as they were supposedly his favourite flower.
However, it seems there was a misunderstanding and that the flower was not his favourite after all.
Queen Victoria sent a wreath of primroses to Lord Beaconsfield’s funeral with a note stating that they were “his favourite flowers”. People assumed that the ‘his’ referred to the Lord himself, but in fact it referred to Victoria’s late husband, Prince Albert.
April 21 is the birthday of Pavel, the founder (and the heart!) of both our Random-Times.com and Volleytimes.com !
April 22 is Earth Day.
The 23rd April is St. George’s Day, the Patron Saint of England and also of Scouting.
It is said that St. George once saved a village from great danger. The village were frightened of a fierce dragon who lived close by, so he killed the dragon.
April 29 is National Arbor Day.
And what about “Just for Fun” days?
April 1 is Sweet Potato Day, while April 4 is International Carrot Day and World Rat Day.
April 5 is National Caramel Day, while April 6 is International Pillow Fight Day, National Caramel Pop Corn Day, as well as Plan your Epitaph Day (…), and National Tartan Day.
April 7 is National No Housework Day, International Beaver Day and National Beer Day (I like it!).
April 8 is the Day of Silence, while April 9 is National Unicorn Day.
April 10 is National Siblings Day, while April 11 National Pet Day and April 12 World Hamster Day.
April 17 is Blah, Blah, Blah Day, while April 19 Bicycle Day, as well as National Garlic Day and National Amaretto Day.
April 20 is National Banana Day
April 21, in addition to our founders’ birthday, is National Tea Day and Go Fly a Kite Day.
April 23 is German Beer Day (I love also this)
April 26 is National Richter Scale Day, but also Hug an Australian Day (I don’t know if our collaborator Nathan is included and his girlfriend agree…).
April 27 is National Sense of Smell Day, as well as the birthday of our collaborator Adam! Happy Birthday for your 23th Birthday! (in 2023)
April’s full moon is called Pink Moon, and in 2023 will rise on Wednesday, April 5, reaching peak illumination at 12:37 A.M. Eastern Time.
This full Moon is also the Paschal Full Moon this year.
Learn more about April’s full Moon here!
The April birthstone, diamond, is the hardest natural material on Earth—58 times harder than anything else naturally occurring!
It has long been a symbol of eternal love, given as an engagement, wedding ring or as an anniversary present. For centuries, it was thought to possess healing powers and provide clarity and balance.
While sparkling and clear diamonds are the most recognizable, the gem comes in a range of colors, including brown, yellow, red, pink, blue, and green. Blue, green, and red are the rarest, but the color of a diamond is dependent on the impurities in the gem.
“Diamond” comes from the Greek word, adamas, meaning invincible or unbreakable.
In Sanskrit, the diamond is called vajra, which also means lightning while, in Hindu mythology, vajra was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, is said to have described the gem as: “the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”
It was once thought that a diamond could ward off the evil eye, which was said to cause sickness, poverty, and in some case even death.
In history, the diamond was believed to have healing powers, act as an antidote to poison, and provide protection against the plague.
During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to cure ailments of the pituitary gland and the brain, and some ancient civilizations believed lightning formed them, while others thought they were the tears of God.
In addition to being a symbol of eternal love and marriage, some thought carrying a diamond would provide strength, beauty, and happiness, while other potential benefits included balance, clarity, and abundance.
It is said that the oldest diamonds were formed more than 3 billion years ago, and apparently the infatuation for them originated in India, where they were collected from rivers and streams.
According to historians, India began trading in diamonds as far back as the 4th century B.C. , and the gem was originally reserved for India’s most wealthy.
Soon, though, India’s diamonds made their way to Western Europe and, by the 1400s, became fashionable also among Europe’s high society.
The first diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477.
The largest diamond ever found was unearthed from South Africa’s Premier mine in 1905. Weighing in at 3,106 carats, the gem produced the Cullinan I diamond, also known as the Great Star of Africa. The 530 carat drop-shaped diamond is set in the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and housed with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Cullinan II (the Lesser Star of Africa) cut from the same diamond is also part of Great Britain’s crown jewels.
Apparently, If you dream of wearing diamond earrings, you will receive good financial advice.
The diamond is not only the April birthstone, but it is also the gem given to celebrate 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries.
By April, spring is officially here and gardens are (or soon will be) bursting with color from the earliest blooming flowers. Daisies and sweet peas have long been recognized as the April birth flowers.
The daisy stands for innocence, purity, and true love, while the sweet pea is a way to say goodbye, send good wishes, or merely convey a thank you.
From Old English, daisy comes from “day’s eye,” referencing the daily habits of the English daisy, with its petals opening in the day and closing at night.
Depending on the species, itcan be one of your earliest spring bloomers or among the last to appear in the fall.
The daisy is actually made up of two flowers: the center eye, or disc floret, is a collection of tiny florets, while the ray floret, the petals, radiate from the center, resembling the Sun. Because a daisy is made up of two flowers that work in perfect harmony, they have long been a symbol of true love.
Native to Europe and Africa, and eventually naturalized in North America, daisies belong to the aster family (Asteraceae), one of the largest plant families that also includes sunflowers and, of course, asters.
The daisy has long represented innocence, purity, and true love, and each color represents something different. The white daisy is a symbol of purity and innocence, yellow means joy and friendship, pink represents affection, and red is a sign of love and romance.
According to an old Celtic legend, when an infant or child died, the gods would cover the child’s grave with daisies to cheer up the parents.
In Norse mythology, the daisy is the sacred flower of Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility and, in turn, the flower became a symbol of motherhood and childbirth, as well as of new beginnings.
Daisies are, in fact, a common gift for new mothers.
A Roman myth attributes the creation of the daisy to the nymph Belides, who turned herself into a daisy to escape the affection of Vertumnus, the god of gardens and seasons. The Latin word for Daisy, bellis, not by chance, is derived from the nymph’s name.
It was once thought that a daisy in a bouquet was a sign of one’s ability to keep a secret, but it is also a flower given between friends to emphasize the keeping of a secret.
The daisy means “I’ll never tell!”
“Daisy” has been used in many phrases over time.
For example, “Fresh as a daisy” means someone has had a good night’s rest, while “oopsy daisy” or “whoops-a-daisy” is said after a mistake or blunder.
Daisies have been linked also to the Virgin Mary, given their representation of love, innocence, and new beginnings.
Historically, the daisy family, which is also known by its scientific name, Compositae, was classified by the German botanist Paul Dietrich Giseke in the late 1700s. However, records of daisies date back to 2,200 B.C., when it is believed they were grown in Egyptian gardens and used for medicinal purposes.
In fact they have long been associated with medicine.
Teas made from daisies are used to treat coughs, bronchitis, and inflammation, wild daisies have been applied to the skin to treat wounds or disease, and King Henry VIII, it has been said, ate daisies to help with stomach ulcers.
On the other hand, the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) is part of the Fabaceae family and is related to beans and other legumes.
While it is not actually a crop pea, it is a close relative, and It’s also commonly confused with the everlasting pea due to its similar look. While sweet pea has been used in some areas of the world for medicine and food, it is considered toxic to humans and animals, unlike its edible garden pea relatives.
Native to Italy and the Mediterranean region, sweet peas are not only beautiful, but have a sweet fragrance, often likened to oranges, honey, and jasmine, and they can brighten any room.
They are found in a wide variety of colors with hundreds of varieties having been developed over time, and bloom from spring to early summer, depending on planting region.
In the language of flowers, a bouquet of sweet peas is a way to say goodbye or thank you for a lovely time, but It can also mean blissful pleasure, good wishes, kindness, gratitude, and friendship.
Some English gardeners refer to them as the “Queen of the Annuals.”
In France, the flower has long been a traditional gift for brides, providing good luck on her wedding day.
At one point in time, it was worn for strength or to reveal the truth. Sweet peas were also worn in pockets to provide a fragrance to clothing, while, in some cultures, they was thought to have magical properties.
Sweet peas were first discovered in southern Italy in the late 1600s by Francis Cupani, a Sicilian monk, who is said to have sent its seeds to Dr. Casper Commelin, a botanist in Amsterdam, and Dr. Robert Uvedale, a teacher and plant enthusiast in England, which began its spread around Europe.
In the 1800s, Henry Eckard, a Scottish nursery proprietor, began creating sweet pea hybrids that were larger, more beautiful, and colorful.
And the rest is history!
About folklore, it is said that: “A cold April the barn will fill.”
This month brings us some capricious weather!
April rains bring verdant pastures, but also umbrellas and rain boots.
The arrival of the cuckoo is the signal that spring has come, and It arrives some time in mid April.
The cuckoo sings from St. Tiburtius’ Day (14th April) to St John’s Day (24th June).
However in Worcestershire, England, there is a saying that the cuckoo is never heard before Tenbury fair (April 21st), or after Pershore fair (June 26th). The difference in dates is because traditionally the bird arrives in different parts of the country during April.
Various April dates are called ‘Cuckoo Day ‘ and some places even hold ‘Cuckoo Fairs’.
For example, Marsden Cuckoo Day in West Yorkshire is an annual traditional festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. According to a local legend, locals used to try to prolong the cuckoo’s stay by building a wall around its nest.
Heathfield Cuckoo Fair in East Sussex is another annual tradition of releasing a cuckoo to mark the beginning of summer. A tale of Heathfield Fair depicts an Old Woman releasing the Cuckoo from her basket, whereupon he “flies up England carrying warmer days with him”.
Again, Downton Cuckoo Fair is an annual traditional event held on the greens of the picturesque village of Downton, south of Salisbury, Wiltshire. The fair marks the “opening the gate” to let the cuckoo through.
Here is an old traditional rhyme about the Cuckoo’s summer life cycle:
In April I open my bill
In May I sing night and day
In June I change my tune
In July far far I fly
In August away I must
In any case, traditionally cuckoo sings from St. Tiburtius’ Day (14th April) to St John’s Day (24th June).
If you should hear the cuckoo sing on St. Tiburtius’ Day, you should turn over all the money in your pockets, spit and not look at the ground! If you do this and are standing on soft ground when you do it, you will have loads of good luck. However if you are standing on hard ground – the cuckoo’s call means bad luck.
The swallow also makes its reappearance during April. Earlier people were mystified by the disappearance of many birds during the winter and at one time thought that the swallow spent the cold months hidden in the mud at the bottom of ponds. Traditionally April 15th is ‘Swallow Day’ in England , the date on which returning swallows were seen again.
April showers bring May flowers.
If early April is foggy
Rain in June
Will make lanes boggy.
When April blows its horn
‘Tis good for hay and corn.
April wet – good wheat.
Till April’s dead, change not a thread.
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