April Teacher Resource Guide

Famed for its showers, which are said in the common English proverb to "bring May flowers," April is one of the warm, pleasant months of Spring in the northern hemisphere - a time when blossoms are opening, birds are singing, the grass is turning green, and the winter's snow already seems like a distant memory. There are also plenty of interesting things going on in April - many of them having to do with human customs and quirks.

Although April 1st, also known as April Fools' Day, is generally known for good-natured jokes and pranks, some pranks have had serious results and caused major problems. A 2003 South Korean April Fools' prank, in which it was reported on numerous websites that Bill Gates, the Microsoft tycoon, has been murdered, caused the South Korean stock market to lose 1.5% of its value before the prank was discovered to be a hoax.

Some of the highly-publicized pranks that have marked April Fools' Day have caused more amusing reactions. The BBC, or British Broadcasting Corporation, ran an April Fools' "story" in 1957, in which supposed Swiss people were shown harvesting spaghetti from trees after the "spaghetti weevil" was wiped out in the country. Amazingly, hundreds of viewers called the station to ask where they could buy spaghetti trees to grow in their own back yard.

Another famous April event that is known throughout the United States - and in the history departments of many international universities - is the "midnight ride" of Paul Revere; but the truth about the midnight ride is stranger than the legend would have us believe. Paul Revere was only one of over forty riders who fanned out through the towns and countryside to carry news of the British advance from Lexington, and was accompanied by two other men, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott.

Partway to Concord, where Revere and his companions were to warn the American militia of the situation, the three horsemen met a group of British troops. Paul Revere was captured and his horse was taken, while Dawes and Prescott escaped, and it was Prescott who actually warned the militia at Concord. Yet, thanks to a poem by the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it is Paul Revere who has usually been credited with the success of the "mission," when in fact he was actually a brave, but ultimately unsuccessful, participant in the "midnight ride." So, each April, when a re-enactor rides along Paul Revere's route on Patriots' Day, he is actually unknowingly reliving the ride of Samuel Prescott and not the more famous patriot named in the poem.

If the Midnight Ride is one of the more inspiring, unique features of April, Tax Day is just the opposite in the view of many Americans. April 15th is notorious as the last day when income tax forms can be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.). Yet, the question arises - why was April 15th chosen as the exact last day by which Americans must file their 1040s?

There is, interestingly, no clear answer - although there is a hint of the likely reason in the fact that the I.R.S. has moved the date forward several times in the past. It is likely that there are simply more and more tax forms to process as the population of the United States grows, and the I.R.S. periodically moves up the last filing date so that the work load will be spread out over a longer time. Even the I.R.S. does not seem to be completely sure, however, so the truth behind this fact remains one of the minor mysteries of this mild Spring month.

Notable April Holidays, Events, and Celebrations