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April 2000

The Joke's On Me

Confessions of an April Fool

Since this month’s issue focuses on the performances of Munich’s upcoming Ballet Week, it would be fitting for me to write a sweet story about the aspirations I had as a little girl to become a beautiful ballerina. But, growing up in a neighborhood filled with boys, I never had such a dream. Instead, my playtime was filled with scheming, trying to stay one step ahead of the cruel pranks designed to make little girls break. I particularly dreaded April Fools’ Day as I was an easy target, and still am. I would nervously study my palms for signs of warts after my playmates had given me toads to hold while informing me of my fictional fate. Or I would spend the day avoiding some neighborhood father who, I had been told, was an alien from Mars, here to conduct experiments on children.

The origins of the holiday are somewhat unclear, but the most popular opinion seems to be that April Fools’ Day originated in France in the 16th century, when the Gregorian calendar was put into use. Before that, New Year’s celebrations took place the last week of March and ended on April 1. When New Year’s Day was changed to January 1, the people who either hadn’t heard of the change or refused to believe it continued to celebrate on April 1. They were deemed to be “April fools.” Those of us who fall victim year after year have the opposite problem of those poor fools in France: our friends and associates tell us untruths — for sport!

The upcoming Ballet Week is the highlight Munich’s cultural calendar. In this month’s feature, Sheila Scott reports on the event, as seen through the eyes of native New Zealander Lisa-Marie Cullum, principal ballerina of the Bavarian State Ballet. Cullum’s comments on the productions provide both novice and seasoned ballet-goers with behind-the-scenes insights into this year’s happenings. Taking up the same theme, Claudine Weber-Hof profiles Philip Taylor, head choreographer at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz. The Englishman’s contemporary ballet productions have been gracing the stages of Munich since 1996.

If you are looking for a fun way to teach kids (or adults for that matter) about the origins of Easter symbols, visit the Zentrum für Aussergewöhnliche Museen. Kay Turtle introduces us to a Munich museum which houses the largest display of Easter bunny paraphernalia in the world.

With spring break approaching, many of you are making travel plans. Claudine Weber-Hof, a former resident of Augsburg, takes us to Bavaria’s third-largest city located 65 kilometers from Munich. Every April 1 I think I have learned my lesson and I start the day on the defense, determined not to believe anything that sounds the least bit fishy. But, eventually I get zapped. Though, in case you’re wondering, I still refuse to hold toads.

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