Spring is one of my favorite times of year and I have never been happier to have reached April than I am this year. I am feeling that the long winter is finally behind us and that we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccinated and hopeful with daylight savings time here and the joy of the Easter weekend just gone by, I am in an optimistic frame of mind.
So now that we are in April, I have been thinking about a phrase that is popular among the British “April showers bring May flowers”. This saying was written in 1557 by an English farmer and poet, Thomas Tusser, the author of “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry,” in his famous book about the care and cultivation of crops and animals. I have mentioned before that it rains a lot in England and the British can expect at least ten days of rain and highs in the mid-50s on average in April. So as a child and young woman living in England every April when the heavens opened and we were drenched in chilly rain, we were encouraged to patiently endure those April showers which lead to the flowers of May. Of course, this phrase is symbolic just like “there is a silver lining after each dark cloud” and “this too shall pass”. If we had needed reminding of the need for patience and to endure, we have certainly had this opportunity over the last twelve months.
April is an interesting month. It generally has the most meteor showers, and originally had just 29 days in it, but Julius Caesar added a day when he established the Julian calendar. The naming of the month also dates back to Roman times so April is thought to come from the Latin word ‘aperio’ which means ‘to open’, referring no doubt to the opening buds of springtime. Did you know that April’s birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea? Also, if you are lucky enough to be born in April, like Queen Elizabeth II and Shakespeare, your birthstone is “a girl’s best friend”, the diamond.
So other than April Fool’s Day and (usually) Easter which are now behind us, what else is observed in April? As is the way these days, every date on the calendar has been appropriated to represent or celebrate something but some that appeal to me are April 10’s ‘National Hug Your Dog Day’ (we have three), April 21’s ‘National Tea Day’ (of course, I am British) and April 28’s ‘National Blueberry Pie Day’ (why not?).
There is another famous date looming this month, the USA’s official federal tax deadline day of April15. Although this deadline was delayed to July 15 last year because of the pandemic, and will be delayed to May 17 in 2021.
The history of Tax Day dates to Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency when he proclaimed the first federal income tax during his first year in office. The Revenue Act came into law in 1862 and it taxed American people’s income to fund the Civil War. Lincoln’s system of a Federal tax on income was repealed in 1871, but it came back in 1909 when Congress passed our current tax system. This became the 16th amendment to the constitution which says, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration”. This amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states in 1913, and originally set March 1 as the deadline to file tax returns and pay up. A few years later this was pushed back to March 15 and in 1955, April15 became the new, and lasting deadline.
I will leave you with a quote from American author, journalist and naturalist, Hal Borland, which inspires me “April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”
God Bless America, and happy April, everyone!
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