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As we say goodbye to a snowy March (what was that all about?) we thought we’d look ahead to April.

Our Top 5 this month is dedicated to just one day in April, April Fool’s Day. The one day of the year dedicated to jokes and pranks. It has been around for ages, but we were wondering, how and when did it actually start?

There are a number of theories out there, but we’re not sure how true they actually are…

Fool’s Errand

Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote a poem in 1561 about a nobleman who hatched a plan to send his servant back and forth on absurd errands on April 1st. However, the servant soon realised that he was the subject of a joke. In the poem the servant is quoted as saying "I am afraid... that you are trying to make me run a fool's errand." However, there is no real indication to why the nobleman sent the servant on pointless tasks.

April Fish Day

A theory that dates back hundreds of year in France suggests that April Fool’s Day originated because of the abundance of fish that can be found in French streams and rivers during early April. Newly hatched fish were easy to fool with a hook and lure, and therefore, the French called them 'Poisson d'Avril' or 'April Fish.' Soon it became customary to fool people on April 1st.

Change in Calendars

The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool's Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century. In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1st. Those who failed to keep up with the change, and celebrated the old calendar system, were made fun of and had jokes played on them.

Gotham

British folklore links April Fool's Day to the town of Gotham in Nottinghamshire. In the 13th Century, it was tradition for any road that the King placed his foot on to become public property. So when the good people of Gotham heard that the King was planning a visit, they pretended to be lunatics and engaged in foolish activities such as drowning fish or attempting to catch birds in roofless cages. The King fell for their act and declared the town too foolish to warrant punishment, therefore ‘saving’ their road and stating a new tradition.

Renewal Festival

Ancient festivals to celebrate the end of winter and the return of spring, also known as "Renewal Festivals" were often celebrated with forms of mayhem and misrule. People would often wear disguises and play pranks on friends and strangers, but just like April Fool’s day today, this only lasted until midday, when order would be restored.

So just like us, you’re probably still left with more questions than answers. So we’ve given up trying to find out how and why, and we’re happy to go along with this weird tradition.

Host families needed

Sussex Coast College Hastings is looking for local families to help host international students over the summer.

Every year the college welcomes hundreds of international students to the town to study English language courses and get a taste of studying in the UK.

The success of these programmes depends on the excellent care that the college’s network of local host families provide.

“Hastings has a great reputation internationally for attracting overseas students and our international programmes run across the year contributing a six figure sum into the local economy as well as providing a vibrancy to the town.” said International Director, Mark Allen.

Satty Chies, who works at the college, has been welcoming students into her home in Hastings for a number of years.

“We really enjoy hosting international students. It’s really good fun and the students are a welcome addition to the family,” said Satty. “We have students from all over the world staying with us, sometimes for a couple of weeks and on other occasions a few months. But however long they’re here, my husband and I really enjoy getting to know them and learning about their cultures.”

“The students we’ve had have all been extremely polite and respectful of the house rules. They always ask if they can help around the house, and occasionally offer to cook dinner for the family.”

“We have two small children and they get on really well with the students. My son likes to talk about and play football with the boys, and my daughter often has nail painting evenings with the girls, which is great and almost like they have older brothers and sisters to look up to.”

“Of course there is the financial benefit which is nice, but we also really enjoy having the students stay with us because we get to know them and develop a nice bond. By the end of their stay, we’re actually sad to see them go.”

Over the next few months groups of students from Brazil, Italy, China, and Japan will be heading to the UK to join the college, and during this time, the college will be looking for host families to help accommodate them.

The college will be able to pay £125 per student, per week, or £103 per student per week if they are sharing a room, towards the cost of providing half board occupancy.

You will need to be living in the Hastings and St. Leonards area, and the students will be aged 14 and above.

If would like to find out more, or would like to become a host family, please get in touch with the International Department at Sussex Coast College on: 01424 458577 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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