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Is April REALLY The Cruelest Month?

Originally Posted: April 18, 2007

Lon S. Cohen

In my younger days I thought that April was all about Fools and Showers and Spring Break. It was kind of like a thoroughfare between winter and spring.

Candy takes the edge off a little and getting to recline on a pillow whilst
enjoying the Seder is a plus...

Once you grow up you start to get what is meant by the cliché, "April is the cruelest month." First you go to work and Blammo, two weeks after April Fools Day you have to pay taxes. Bummer. Then you realize "April showers bring May flowers" just means a month of rain. No walks on the beach. No BBQs. No Camping. No strolling around town. No antiquing. No nothin'. Just Taxes, Rain and stupid people who still think April Fools Day pranks are funny. April sucks eggs.

Speaking of Eggs...Sure there's Easter stuck in there and for us Jewish peeps there's Passover. Both are celebratory days, in theory. Candy takes the edge off a little and getting to recline on a pillow whilst enjoying the Seder is a plus.

Back in the olden days the Anglo-Saxons called April, Oster-monath or Eostur-monath. This was the time of their pagan goddess of spring. It had festivals and celebrations and all kinds of decadence. For a most of history, April was the party month. Who can't get into a good Oster fete?

Leave it to T.S. Elliot to ruin it for the rest of us.

"APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."

With those lines from the first stanza of his poem "The Waste Land," Elliot put the kibosh on Eostur-monath. Next thing you know, the IRS sticks in tax day and it rains all month just so we can have a few freaking lilacs in May.

So the government had to step in. Congress instituted a process by which they can pass a resolution that makes it a law that for an entire month, Americans must be aware of just about any endeavor, sickness, habit, theory or occupation.

In honor of the enigmatic, the United States decided that April should be National Poetry Month. But with lines like, "I saw with my own eyes the Sibyl at Cumae hanging in a cage, and when the boys said to her 'Sibyl, what do you want?' that one replied 'I want to die' from the preface to The Burial of the Dead also by T.S. Elliot, things haven't much improved in the pagan Oster fete department.

After the showers bring the flowers you can relax and be aware of all there
is to be aware of for the month or maybe just a day here and there.

So next, someone came up with an idea only slightly less dark but not as esoteric: National Welding Month. I checked it out and this is a real thing. You're thinking that welding is nothing special, right? Well in the beginning of the Good Book there's talk about, of all things, welding. From Genesis 4:22, "Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron." And did you know that as early as 3000 B.C. the Egyptians heated iron ore and then hammered it together? This is the earliest example of "pressure" or "solid-phase" welding. I also found out that in 1500 B.C. Iron was smelted! Then in 1823 Charles Macintosh opened a rubber factory in Glasgow Scotland.

I have no idea what that has to do with welding but it does segue nicely into the next month-long celebration in April: VD Awareness Month. I mean, let's face it, this is a very important subject especially when spring turns a young man's fancy to matters of the heart. You have to support this one. No one wants STD. It just makes sense, darn it. It's clear-cut and easy to understand. I like it.

Of course April is officially National Health Awareness Month, so overall we should be aware of our well being not just in April but all year long.

But just say, for instance, that you are not a generalist. You like specifics. You can't get into something as vague as health awareness because that could mean so many things to so many people. Not to worry, friends. Congress has enacted a variety of awareness campaigns in April that specifically target many health issues.

Did you know that April is National Facial Protection Month? Of course not, unless you happen to roller blade, snowboard, ski, play on any intramural team, or just like your face the way it is. The American Dental Association is unanimous in the fact that people should wear mouth guards practically 24 hours a day. (And if you can throw a little fluoride in there, hey, that's just an extra benefit!) It's not just four out of five dentists, every dentist agrees on that.

Of course on the other side is a celebration that is just as important if not more so: IBS Awareness Month. IBS is officially classified as a functional disorder rather than an actual disease so don't expect there to be a telethon anytime soon. It's fascinating to read all about the misinformation that is spread around about IBS. This lack of understanding prevents many sufferers from seeking treatment. But with understanding we can all battle the stigma attached to this functional disorder. I contacted the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and spoke with the Communications Director about the best way to celebrate IBS Month. Some suggestions were a Chili Cookout or a day of Tax Preparation around April 14th or so. Sounds like a return to the days of Oster-monath to me.

Curiously, not all Health issues get the entire month. For some reason, Root Canal Awareness only gets one week in April. I contacted the American Association of Endodontists to ask whether they thought it was fair that IBS gets the whole month while Root Canal only gets a week. Apparently there is a little resentment between the American Association of Endodontists and the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. They don't exactly see eye to eye.

Even more curious is that there is only one day in April for World Health Awareness. Even worse, awareness of environmental issues only gets Earth Day. One would think that IBS, Root Canals, and Poetry would not rank as high as world health and global warming, but there you go.

Not to leave out the kiddies, the United States of America has dedicated April as ZAM or Zoo and Aquarium Month. Suggestions to enjoy this celebration are to visit a zoo or aquarium online or make your rug rats do projects about animals. Here's a fun one I found online: "Have students use water, ice cubes, and shortening to discover the benefits of blubber in freezing conditions."

So now when the IRS audits you after you file your tax returns you know what
you can tell them.

If you're looking for a serious activity for this April then there's Mathematics Awareness Month. This year's theme is Mathematics and the Brain. It was started way back in 1986 with a proclamation by Ronald Reagan who said, "It is appropriate that all Americans be reminded of the importance of this basic branch of science to our daily lives." Tell that to the next kid who says that they're never going to use this in real life.

But an even earlier and more important April celebration is National Humor Month, founded in 1976 by humorist Larry Wilde, Director of The Carmel Institute of Humor. According to his website "it is designed to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one's life."

I don't get it.

There are so many more National Awareness campaigns in April that I can't list them all. But to end with, I must mention that April is also National Kite Month. So now when the IRS audits you after you file your tax returns you know what you can tell them.

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