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Spain’s Equivalent of April Fools’ Celebrated in December

If you are in Spain on April 1st and play a joke on your friends and follow that up with a shout of “¡Tontos de abril!” meaning April fools! You probably get nothing but blank stares in response.

The minor holiday of April Fools’ Day, originated in the United States, is little known in Spain. However, there is a rough equivalent, el Día de los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Holy Innocents), celebrated on December 28th.

This day is celebrated throughout Spain in much the same way as April Fools’ Day is celebrated in other countries.

But when the prankster is ready to reveal the joke, they say “¡Inocente, inocente!” or “Innocent one, innocent one!”

It is also common on this day for newspapers and TV stations to print or broadcast “news” stories based in humor rather than fact.

If we look at its origins, the day is a sort of gallows humor.

The Day of the Innocents, according to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, King Herod ordered the baby boys under 2 years old in Bethlehem to be killed because he was afraid that the baby Jesus born there would become a rival.

As it turned out, though, the baby Jesus had been taken away to Egypt by Mary and Joseph. So the “joke” was on Herod, and thus followed the tradition of tricking friends on that day.

Celebrating With a Food Fight

One of world’s more unusual celebrations used to mark 28th December is in Ibi, Alicante, Spain, not far from the middle of the Spanish Mediterranean Coast.

In a tradition dating back more than 200 years, townspeople engage in a massive food fight of sorts — but it’s all in good fun and is used to raise money for charity.

After a several decades in which the festivities were suspended for the Spanish Civil War and subsequent national events, they were revived in 1981 and have become a tourist draw and major event since then.

The festivities are known as Els Enfarinats in Valencian, in Spanish, it’s known as the fiesta of Los Enharinados, loosely translated as “The Flour-Covered Ones.”

The festivities traditionally begins around 8 a.m. when participants in mock military attire stage a fake coup and take “control” of the town and enact all sorts of crazy “rules” in a program called New Justice — Justicia Nueva.

Those who break the pretend rules are fined, with the money going to worthy causes.

Eventually, a massive fight ensues between the “rulers” and the “opposition,” a battle fought with flour, vegetables and other harmless projectiles.

Festive dancing marks the end of the “battle.”