Kid's Activity: April Fool's Day!

by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder

Yes, there is actually a holiday that commercialism has not caught on to yet! April Fool's Day is one we celebrate by having fun with harmless, practical jokes that leave everyone -- including the one being "pranked" laughing! Remember, it is never okay to do something mean or unkind to someone else. Be certain to explain the difference between a hurtful joke and a good natured prank to your child.

History

Actually, no one knows for sure (which may be a practical joke in itself!)when these traditions began. The best guess dates back to the year 1582, when the switch was made to the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the one that we are familiar with today -- with the New Year set for January 1st each year. Before that, however, the New Year was actually an 8 day celebration, following the Spring Equinox (beginning of Spring!) In the year 1582, the celebration began on March 25th and ended on April 1st (the New Year).

Most of the world had agreed to make the switch. There are two ideas though on what happened next or perhaps it was a combination of both! Think back... the year was 1582. Modern modes of communication and transportation weren't invented yet. Therefore, news traveled rather slowly throughout the world. Some believe that there are areas of the countries/world that did not receive news of the switch for several years. Then there were the "holdouts." This group was just plain stubborn. They had always celebrated New Year's Day a certain way (in the Spring) and weren't about to change now!

Hence, while the majority of the world did get the news and celebrated New Year's on January 1st, there were those that continued to hold on to the springtime celebration -- landing on April 1st since that was the date when this whole controversy appears to have been centered. Those not keeping up with "the times" were then often called "backward folk". Tradition then has the "modernized" folk gently poking fun, thinking the "old-timers" were ornery and would believe whatever they were told. Eventually, these groups became known as April Fools.

Parents! Would you like to play your own prank on your family? Try our very special "April Fool's Day Meal" below!

Cake... or is it?

What you'll need:
• Two round cake pans
• Your favorite meatloaf recipe*
• Mashed potatoes
• Ketchup
• Cherry tomatoes
• Parsley

*Need a recipe for meatloaf?
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or uncooked oatmeal
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

How to make it:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs or oatmeal, onions, milk, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper just until blended. Divide evenly between two 8-inch round cake pans. Bake 45 minutes - 1 hour (until juices are clear).

Drain off fat and let sit 5 minutes. Invert 1 meat loaf onto a serving plate. Using a spatula, frost top with about ½ cup mashed potatoes. Invert second meat loaf onto potatoes. Spread remaining mashed potatoes over top and sides of meat loaf. Decorate with ketchup. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and parsley.

French fries with ketchup... or is it?

What you'll need:
• Pound cake
• Raspberry sauce
• Clean ketchup bottle

How to make it:
Cut pound cake into french fry sized strips. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and golden on the edges (takes about 10-15 minutes). Serve with raspberry sauce in a plastic ketchup bottle.

Need some ideas to "supplement" this meal? How about: