April 1, is globally known as ‘April Fool’s day’; a day of practical jokes and hoaxes. It is a day marked with hilarious pranks that elicits fits of laughter. And the jokes and the victims are called ‘April Fools.’
Today, April Fool’s day falls on Easter Sunday, a day many religious sects hold sacred in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ.
This coincidence – April Fool’s Day and Easter Sunday – is occurring for the first time again after 62 years.
“It is a tricky time for Christians. These two days that have different philosophies coincide. Many could easily get carried away with the Fool’s Day, and make a mockery of the essence of Easter. So, I urge Christians to be careful about what they give prominence,” Reverend Onyekachukwu Phillips of the Ephether Int’l Ministry Yaba, Lagos, advised.
He also urged his congregation and Nigerians in general to focus on the significance of Christ’s resurrection and ignore the fooleries of April Fool’s day.
More Praying, less pranking:
For Christine Adetumbi, a parishioner of Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Mushin, the coincidence is disappointment.
Said that though she is an active church member, she is also an avid fan of the April Fool’s Day.
“I am very good at playing pranks on my friends. So, April Fool’s Day is a fun day for us. But I’m an ardent Catholic. I understand what Easter Sunday means for the Christian faith. I usually devote most of my Easter Sundays to praying and praising God at the church. I’ve always played different pranks on my friends and family on this day. So, I feel a bit sad that I won’t be active in this year’s April Fool’s Day because I would just be in the church to observe the Easter in a solemn way,” she said.
However, Reverend Eric Ezeana of the House of Worship Int’l Ministry, Lagos, was of the opinion that Christians can accommodate both days not minding the sharp contrast. “Obviously, April Fool’s Day is a distinctly different holiday — one that emphasizes joviality, small and elaborate pranks. But Easter Sunday is a day of joy for Christians because we’re celebrating the resurrection of Christ. So, I don’t see anything wrong in marking it with laughter from Easter themed jokes and some little pranks that could come because of the April fool’s day,” he said.
Another clergyman, Apostle Michael Oni, believes that Christians are free to play pranks and laugh on Easter.
But he also admonished that they should be careful to avoid their jokes leading then to sin.
“The message of Easter is that Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter in ancient times was crucified one Friday as a criminal, but arose from the grave on Sunday, and by these two deeds, delivered all those who believe in Him into everlasting life, freed forever from their many sins. That is the essence all Christians should focus and celebrate,” he said.
Also Evangelist Jonathan Onyeka, coordinator of the Teaching Ministry of the AMEN Community, Ojo-Alaba, Lagos, said that the clash of dates should be seen as a rare opportunity.
“It is common to hear preachers cracking jokes before starting their sermons. So, I think it is a rare opportunity to have Easter Sunday clashing with April Fool’s Day. The last it happened was in 1956. Due to the irregularities involved in dating Easter against the Gregorian calendar, the two coincide intermittently. After 2018, the next one is 2029, and then again in 2040—but after that, not again in this century. April Fools’ Day is not significant in Christianity, but it is the perfect excuse to talk about jokes in the Bible.
“Although I believe that Christians should be free to celebrate the Easter with humour, they should also be careful not to get carried away and then forget the morals that Jesus’ death and resurrection,” he said.
The discussion on what is expected of Christians who observe Easter has always generated diverse opinions. While some believe it should be marked with fanfare, merrymaking and laughter to celebrate the risen Christ, others believe it is a day for Christians to be sombre and reflect on how to improve on their Christian lives.
For Pastor Patrick Aigbokhan, a parish pastor at the Life Gate Parish of the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG), Lambe, Lagos, Christians should use the Easter seasons for evangelical purposes rather than jollification and fooling around.
“People can choose to celebrate and enjoy themselves during Easter. But we use that period to go around and evangelize and win souls for Christ. Many get involved in different immoral activities like stealing and duping people because of their desire to get money for Easter celebration so as to live up to public expectations. They celebrate Easter amiss by doing and saying things that would lead them to hell. But Jesus is the reason for the Easter season.
So for Easter celebrations, we choose that day to go out and win converts for God. Nothing else is more important than this,” he said.