The day of the Innocent

The Funniest Day of the Year

By: Mónica Belén

"Inocente palomita que te has dejado te engañar..." is a common phrase to hear or read in Mexico during December 28 of every year, it is called Dia de Los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents). Despite its name, the Day of the Holy Innocents has a pagan origin. Already in the Middle Ages, the so-called "Feast of Fools" was celebrated. On this feast, everything was allowed. It was a day of absolute freedom. For this reason, the Church wanted to put a little control before so much debauchery and decided to join this holiday to the commemoration of the day in which King Herod I the Great ordered to kill many children, specifically all children under 2 years born in Bethlehem. Having learned of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, he wanted to avoid being dethroned by him.

All of the above comes from the ancient Saturnalia customs that were celebrated in a Roman festival dedicated to the agricultural god Saturn, held between December 17 and 23 of each year during the winter solstice. These Roman festivities included gifts, and also the reversal of social roles, masters served slaves and slaves were masters, which made it one of the most popular celebrations of the calendar and, without a doubt, the most joyful. Some of its characteristics and its date, with the passage of time the saturnales ended up extending towards the end of December. Already in the 1400's, this custom was abandoned and was replaced by the so-called Holy Innocents' Day, which we have already mentioned.

In some English-speaking countries, April Fools' Day is celebrated on April 1, due to the variation of the New Year's calendar. This American celebration has its origin in 1582, when King Charles IX decided to change the calendar. Until then, New Year's Day was celebrated from March 25 (after the beginning of spring) to April 1. But the Gregorian calendar moved that celebration to January 1.

But let's leave the history behind and move on to the fun stuff. What do we do in Mexico every December 28. For starters we should all be forewarned because it is very common that our friends, family or school or workmates start giving fake news about themselves or acquaintances, "hey I'm pregnant" or "I'm getting married!" or even major newspapers publish fake news on their front pages, radio and television are not far behind.

Social networks, WhatsApp will be plagued with fake news, not serious ones that seek to deceive whoever reads or listens to them. So if you have a Mexican friend you better be alert because on December 28 you will surely be the victim of some joke made with the best intentions and do not be surprised if you become the poor innocent pigeon that was fooled if you believe in these jokes. Stay alert and enjoy!

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