The Internet Web site of the daily newspaper Reforma yesterday carried stories not found elsewhere in Mexico — or the world. "Bush admits the war was a mistake," "Clinton..."
MEXICO CITY — The Internet Web site of the daily newspaper Reforma yesterday carried stories not found elsewhere in Mexico — or the world.
“Bush admits the war was a mistake,” “Clinton writes a book on fidelity,” and Mexican President Vicente Fox demands that the Fox network stop using his last name.
A closer look at the upper left-hand corner of the Web page, however, explained it all. Reforma had become reformado, or “reformed,” and the date, Dec. 28, marks the equivalent of April Fools’ Day in Latin America.
It’s called Dia de los Inocentes, or “Day of the Innocents.” The date refers to the slaughter of male infants by King Herod in his attempt to kill the Baby Jesus, as told in the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates it as the day of the “Holy Innocents.”
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There seems to be no definitive history on how the day turned into an opportunity to make crank phone calls, tell outrageous tales, or ask for money with no intention of returning it. Pranks are followed by the phrase “inocente palomita, caiste,” or “innocent dove, you fell for it.”
In Spanish, “innocent” also can mean naive or foolish.
A popular theory is that the religious celebration mixed with a pagan one called “Fiesta de los Locos,” or “Party of the Crazy,” and so became an opportunity to carry out foolish acts.
Like Americans with April Fools’ Day pranks, Mexicans remember with humor and bitterness their innocent moments.
Gilberto Perez, 29, a chef, remembers when he came into work and was told he was fired. “I felt really bad and wanted to cry. … After a few minutes, the boss yelled out in a teasing tone, ‘Innocent dove, you fell for it.’ That’s when I realized what day it was.”
Karla Barrera, 29, lent a co-worker 500 pesos, about $45. Things loaned on Day of the Innocents supposedly don’t have to be returned.
“As much as I asked her for the money, she did not return it to me. That caused us to fight, and I have not spoken to her since,” said Barrera, who works at a dry cleaner. “I will never forget that prank, and now I am much more cautious.”
Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador opened his morning news conference with a serious expression and told reporters he had made up with Fox, a fierce political rival.
The mayor soon revealed that it was a prank.