is the first full month of spring! We hope that your sky is bright and clear and your grass is growing green. In celebration, check out the month’s fun facts and folklore.
Oh, how fresh the wind is blowing!
See! The sky is bright an clear,
Oh, how green the grass is growing!
April! April! Are you here?
–Dora R. Goodale (1866–1953)
APRIL FOOLS' DAY
The term “All Fools,” was probably meant as a deliberate stab at All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2) Day. Although the origin of playing practical jokes and pranks on this day is hazy, many folklorists believe it may go back to 16th-century France. At that time, New Year’s Day was March 25, with a full week of partying and exchanging gifts until April 1. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day to January 1. Those who forgot or refused to honor the new calendar were teasingly called, “April Fool!” Weather folklore states, “If it thunders on All Fools Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay.”
April 21st is Easter Sunday this year (April 28th is Orthodox Easter.)
Easter is a “movable feast” and does not have a fixed date; however, it is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.
Do you know how the Easter date is determined?
HOW IS THE DATE OF DETERMINED?
Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon? Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox. This full Moon is referred to as the “paschal full Moon.”
In 2019, the equinox is March 20 and the full Moon is also on March 20 (in North America). So, why isn’t Easter on Sunday, March 24? As it turns out, to make things a little simpler for the Christian Church, the spring equinox was determined to always be March 21. (In reality, the equinox can happen on March 19, 20, or 21.) Since the first full Moon after March 21 doesn’t occur until April 19 this year, Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 21.
WHAT IS EASTER SUNDAY?
Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar - and has been regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church.
Easter Sunday celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year. The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical body.
WHAT IS THE GOLDEN NUMBER?
People often ask about the Golden Number, which was traditionally used in calculations for determining the date of Easter. The Moon repeats the dates of its phases approximately every 19 years (the Metonic cycle), and the Golden Number represents a year in that cycle. The year of the cycle can then be used to determine the date of Easter.
To Calculate the Golden Number:
Add 1 to any given year and divide the result by 19, ensuring that you calculate to the nearest whole number; the remainder is the Golden Number. If there is no remainder, the Golden Number is 19.
For example, to calculate the Golden Number for 2019, we take 2019 and add 1, resulting in 2020, then divide it evenly by 19, giving us 106 with a remainder of 6. Therefore, the Golden Number for 2019 is 6, meaning 2019 is the 6th year of the Metonic cycle.
EASTER TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE
An Easter tradition seen around the world is the coloring of eggs. Bright, artificial dyes are popular now, but some folks still use natural dyes, such as those made from onion skins or beets, to give their eggs a more natural, earthy look. In parts of Eastern Europe, it’s tradition to create intricate designs on the egg with wax or twine before coloring.
Learn how to dye your Easter eggs naturally
Easter folk symbols include:
- Eggs, traditionally forbidden during Lent, symbolize new life. Read more intriguing facts and folklore about eggs.
- The Easter Bunny recalls the hare, the Egyptian symbol of fertility.
- The lamb is said to symbolize Jesus, as it embodies purity and goodness, but also represents sacrifice.
- The Easter lily, with its sheer white petals, symbolizes purity and innocence, as well as the resurrection of Jesus.
WHERE DID THE WORD “EASTER” COME FROM?
The exact origin of the word “Easter” is unclear. However, it may have derived its name from the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess Eostre, whose feast was celebrated each spring at about this time.
Alternatively, it may have derived from words meaning “rising,” “dawn,” or “east.”
APRIL IS NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH
Begun in 1976 by humorist Larry Wilde, this observance serves to heighten public awareness of humor’s health benefits. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and pain, relax muscles, boost morale, strengthen the immune system, increase blood flow, and enrich the quality of life overall. To get the month off to a healthy start, can you answer these riddles?
Q: Which is heavier, a half Moon or a full Moon?
A: The half Moon because the full Moon is twice as light
Q: April showers bring May flowers. What do May flowers bring?
Q: What day does an Easter egg hate the most?
Q: Can February March?
A: No, but April May!
This month brings us some capricious weather! April rains bring verdant pastures, but also umbrellas and rain boots!
APRIL BIRTH SYMBOLS
April’s birth flower is the daisy or sweet pea.
April’s birthstone is the diamond.
A few fun facts about diamonds:
- The diamond, composed solely of carbon, is the hardest gemstone and can be cut only by another diamond. Although often colorless, it also may appear in yellow, brown, red, pink, orange, blue, or green, from pale to intense; the more saturated the hue, the more valuable the stone.
- Diamonds form about 90 miles deep in Earth, at tremendous pressure.
- This gem is a symbol of everlasting love and was once thought to protect against poison.
- The largest known diamond is 2,500 miles wide and weighs approximately 10 billion trillion trillion carats. A crystallized white dwarf star, it is located in the constellation Centaurus, about 50 light-years from Earth. It is nicknamed “Lucy,” after the Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”
NATIONAL GRILLED CHEESE MONTH
April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and we can't think of a comfort food more deserving of it's own month-long celebration. Grilled cheese has nothing to hide — it knows all you really want to eat is cheese and bread in all their golden, melty glory and it's not gonna judge you for it.
A truly satisfying grilled cheese doesn’t require fancy ingredients, but there are so many ways to upgrade and perfect your technique. Try these recipes and celebrate this month to the fullest (or until you're fullest...).
CLASSIC AMERICAN GRILLED CHEESE
"You are perfect just the way you are, don’t change a thing." I’m pretty sure that’s what Jeff Mauro said to this quintessential version of the sandwich. I mean, look at it.
TOMATO SOUP AND GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS
Tomato soup and grilled cheese go together as perfectly as Ina and Jeffrey Garten. (Who are we kidding? Almost as perfectly.) Ina obviously knows a perfect match when she sees one, and so she created Gruyere grilled cheese croutons that nestle charmingly into the warm bowl of soup.
BREAKFAST GRILLED CHEESE
Start your day the grilled-cheese way! Cream cheese swirled with jam creates a sweet center that oozes out from between crispy, buttery waffles.
GIANT GRILLED CHEESE FOR A CROWD
Everyone "loaves" an easy dish to serve to a crowd — especially one that is filled with three types of cheese! This giant sandwich gets its golden exterior from an surprising condiment that you "mayo" guessed by now. (We know! We're cheesy — but so is this dish!)
SOPPRESSATA AND PROVOLONE GRILLED CHEESE
The saltiness of the soppressata and sweetness of the fig jam create a balanced sandwich that is far from your average grilled cheese. While prepping this meal, mix the cured meat and cheese together so every bite is a perfect one.
GRILLED VEGETABLE, HERB AND GOAT CHEESE SANDWICHES
Even without meat, this Giada de Laurentiis sandwich is hearty and savory. Zucchini and eggplant are cooked ever-so slightly prior to assembly. This ensures that the veggies are nice and tender when you bite into the earthy, veggie-stuffed sandwich.
HANGOVER TOAD-IN-A-HOLE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
There’s a reason grilled cheese is a standby for college students. It’s simple, cheap and some mornings (afternoons?) all you want are carbs. This grilled cheese has an egg nestled into the center — life-changing.
DOUBLE DECKER TRUFFLED GRILLED CHEESE
This double decker grilled cheese takes it up a level — literally. Truffle oil, fresh figs and Brie cheese meld together in this decadent, double-stacked sandwich. Who says a grilled cheese can’t be fancy and over-the-top?