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Opinion

Storied history, mystique surround month of April

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April 4, 2013

It is now April, even though the consistent cold temperatures and snow still on the ground show otherwise.

The fourth month of the year presents not only the hope that the weather in the upper Midwest will soon be warm and sunny, but it also presents many symbols, phenomenon and mostly unknown historical roots.

For students, April is likely a very stressful month, as the lingering cold weather starts to move out and professors prepare for the end of the semester. There is a lot to learn about and be aware of for the 30 days of this month among the pile of homework.

The term April comes from the verb “aperire,” meaning “to open.” It is supported by the word’s Greek equivalent, “anoixis.” This term is used as a metaphor for the typical weather and nature patterns, as leaves begin to bud once again on trees and flowers open up. It can also be used to describe getting fresh air after the long winter months of being cooped up inside. April is named for the goddess Venus, though it could also have roots to Aphrodite, a name coming from Aprilis.

Every year, April and July both start on the same day of the week, while April and December both end on the same day of the week. April and January start on the same day of the week during leap years.

The month started out on Monday with the popular April Fools’ Day. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” of 1392 first suggested a correlation between the date and practical jokes, and the unofficial “prank” holiday has grown across the world ever since. Countries around the world observe April Fools’ Day, playing popular jokes such as giving false information in newscasts, to friends, or disassembling the subject’s belongings, such as the classic salt in a jar of sugar. Some countries, such as Denmark, celebrate the humorous day on the first of May, or around the time of New Years.

The month also has several different symbols. Each month has its own unique birthstone, and in April, the birthstone is the diamond. The birth flower is most commonly known to be the daisy, which is most commonly found in Europe, but also seen in the Americas, and sometimes it is known to be the sweet pea, a Mediterranean flower. The zodiac signs in the month, signs that come just before the constellation is seen in the night sky, are Aries until April 20, and Taurus after April 20.

One characteristic of April that I was particularly interested in is the common phrase, “April showers bring May flowers,” a phrase introduced in 1886. April Showers is actually a real phenomenon, not just a poetic device. It refers to common spring rains annually in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The jet stream around this time of year tends to move northward, causing heavy downpours and large winds in these areas from the Atlantic.

April is a busy month, especially for us students wrapping up the semester. Many of us hope to see warmer temperatures and melted snow very soon instead of cold. Sophomore Cara Szymanski agreed, “I can’t wait for the snow and ice to melt; I have fallen too many times.”

The nice weather is something to make the homework load more bearable, being able to go outside and knowing that a long break is not far away.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.