http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年04月01日 17:32
Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of (1)April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar(2). Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring(3).
1 April fool：愚人节时受愚弄的人，中文多译作“四月傻瓜”。
3 有些人认为它可能是同时从几种文化演变而来的，源自与春季第一天有关的庆祝活动。sort of:(口)近似，有那么点儿。
The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to (4)that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1(5).
4 prior to：在......之前
5 查理九世在位期间进行了历法改革，引进了阳历，并且把新年第一天移至1月1日。Charlex IX：查理九世，法兰西国王[1560-1574]；Gregorian Calendar：格列高利历，即目前全世界通用的阳历。
However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years(6). Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1(7). These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes(8).
8 他们受到嘲笑，并且经常被派去做只有笨蛋才做的差事，或者成为恶作剧的对象。butt：(嘲弄等的)对象，笑柄；practical joke：恶作剧。
This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April(9). The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun feast(10), so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.
In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day(11). The origin of the "kick me" sign can be traced to this observance(12).
Mexico's counterpart of April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod. It eventually evolved into a lighter commemoration involving pranks and trickery(13).
13 最初这一天是用来纪念被希律王屠杀的那些无辜的孩童，结果却演变成了一个充满恶作剧和诡计的较为轻松的纪念日。King Herod：希律王(希律大帝)，统治时期的犹太国王，统治后期凶恶残暴，曾下令屠戮伯利恒城男婴；commemoration：庆祝会，纪念仪式；trickery：诡计，耍花招。
Pranks performed on April Fool's Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied!), to the elaborate(14). Setting a roommate's alarm clock back an hour is a common gag(15). Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!" (16)
Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees. (17)
April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their "significant other(18)" out to eat in a fancy restaurant. Nobody gets off work or school. It's simply a fun little holiday, but a holiday on which one must remain forever vigilant(19), for he may be the next April Fool!
18 significant other：伴侣