Ten Facts You Didn't Know About the Month of April

Does April Make You Feel Foolish?

 In the northern hemisphere April is a most confusing month; rainy and wet one day, the next full of a warm promise of green growth to come. Besides the weather, the month is full of surprises and contradictions, prized for rebirth and endings, and a birth month to amazing geniuses and crazed despots both, making fun of astrological predictions. 

You must love April. It is just like life. 

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April Is Named for Aphrodite

Reliefs From The Sebasteion of Aphrodisas: Birth of Aphrodite
Reliefs From The Sebasteion of Aphrodisas: Birth of Aphrodite. CC Flick User Ken and Nyetta

April is named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. In the Roman calendar, the fourth month April is spelled Aprilis, meaning "to open." Festivals which were planned for April included Parrilla, a day celebrating the founding of Rome.

The name Aprilis, then, fits April, because in so many places in the northern hemisphere April is the month when trees and flowers begin to bloom and go on to flower.

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April's Zodiac Signs Are Four-Legged Hooved Creatures

Atlas zodiacal (Harmonia Macrocosmica) de Andreas Cellarius (1661)
Atlas zodiacal (Harmonia Macrocosmica) de Andreas Cellarius (1661) en el que se aprecia la banda zodiacal y la Tierra como centro del universo del sistema ptolemaico. Andreas Cellarius / Dominio Público

Two signs in the traditional Zodiac calendar fall in April, both of which are domestic animals, quadrupeds with cloven hoofs. People born in the first part of the month between March 21st and April 19th are said to be born under the sign of Aries the Ram, a Sun sign which is ruled by the planet and the Roman god of War, Mars. Those born from April 20th to May 20th are born under Taurus the Bull, an Earth sign who is ruled by the planet and the Roman goddess of love, Venus. No wonder people born on the cusp (between April 19th and 20th) are just confused.

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April's Honorary Flowers are Daisies and Sweet Peas

santa barbara daisies
Santa Barbara daisies, aka Mexican daisies. Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

Two flowers signify the month of April: the daisy and the sweet pea. The daisy symbolizes innocence, loyal love, and purity; but it also means "I'll never tell!" The oldest daisy on record is the Bellis perennis, known as Daeges eage (or Day's eye) in the Middle Ages because its petals close at night to cover the yellow center.

Today there are more than 90 varieties of flowers that are called daisies and they come in red, yellow, purple, orange, blue, and pink colored petals, and vary widely in size. But they are, as director/writer Nora Ephron once wrote, "the friendliest flower."

The sweat pea signifies blissful pleasure, and are used to say goodbye. Sweet peas may be a pretty flower, but they are also one of the oldest food crops on our planet, domesticated by humans about 11,000 years ago.

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The Diamond Is April's Birth Stone

Rough diamonds from the EKATI Diamond Mine in Canada.
Rough diamonds from BHP Billiton EKATI Diamond Mine in Canada. (Photo by Coal Photography/Alexander Legaree / Getty Images)

The birthstone for people born in April is the diamond, one of the hardest substances on earth, and one that formed deep in the earth, even if we don't know how long ago that happened. The word diamond comes from the early Greek word adamas, meaning untamable and related to our word adamant. That's because the Greeks knew a tough customer when they saw one. Among the earliest historical mentions of diamonds is found in the book of Exodus, where diamond (jahalom in Hebrew) is mentioned as one of twelve engraved precious stones set in the breastplate of the high priest.

Diamonds are said to bring all kinds of benefits to their owners, supposedly leading the wearer to experience better relationships and an increase in inner strength. They are supposed to bring balance, clarity, and abundance, and it is symbolic of eternal love and the bringer of wealth to six centuries of the diamond trade.

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Poet William Wordsworth Was Born in April

Word's host of daffodiles are associated with luck and unrequited love. Photo Credit: Nicolette Wells/Moment/Getty Images

The English poet William Wordsworth was born April 7, 1770, and one of his best-known poems is perfect for April in the northern hemisphere: "I wandered lonely as a cloud," which he first published in 1807. Here's a little snippet for an April day:

  • I wandered lonely as a cloud
  • That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
  • When all at once I saw a crowd,
  • A host, of golden daffodils;
  • Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
  • Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
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Noah Webster Copyrighted the First Edition of His Dictionary in April

Noah Webster: Her0 of Poor Spellers Everywhere. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)

The famous language expert Noah Webster was a bit of an April fool: one of his dearest wishes was to reform English spelling for Americans, to make it simpler and more obvious. While millions of school children could definitely go for that; Webster's proposals included removing all double vowels. Bread would be spelled bred, friend would become frend; tuf for tuf, laf for laugh, kee for key, and speek for speak. He also wanted us to spell machine masheen and pique peek.

His successes included changing plough for plow and draught for draft; but if you're a poor speller, you might just peek your frends and attribute that to your fondness for April's Noah Webster.

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Leonardo da Vinci Was Born in April

Studies of Male Profiles by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Study of Male Profiles, drawing 446E recto. Dea/ R. Bardazzi/ Getty Images

What can you possibly say about Leonardo in 100 words? He was a painter, a scientist who painted many pieces of religious art, he was fascinated by the flight of birds and the mechanisms of guns. He was a Renaissance genius for his and any other time, capable of turning his hand to anything. And he was born in April.

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William Shakespeare Born and Died in April

Picard recites Shakespeare
Captain Picard recites Shakespeare. Paramount/CBS

The Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare was another April genius, born on April 23, 1564, and died on or about his April birthday at the age of 52 in England in 1616. He may have stolen whole plots and plot twists from his fellow playwrights and ancient history, but his prose and poetic output is unmatched for originality and complexity, and still revered today.

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Adolf Hitler Was Born in April

The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names now contains 4.5 million names of Holocaust victims.
© 2016 Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority

Just in case you were thinking that only marvelously talented people and gifted people were born in April, Adolf Hitler, surely one of the most depraved leaders ever, was born in Austria on April 20th, 1889. His brand of crazy involved world domination and extreme mass murder that makes you wish there was a better word than "mass murder." Maybe it was that "cusp" thing.

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A Snippet of a Poem for April by Sara Teasdale

Weeping willow trees (image) are incredibly graceful. They're too big for a small yard though.
Weeping willows have long been considered the embodiment of grace in one's landscaping. David Beaulieu

 There are so many different poems written for April that it's hard to pick. Here's one from Sara Teasdale, called April Song.  

Willow, in your April gown
Delicate and gleaming,
Do you mind in years gone by
All my dreaming?
Spring was like a call to me
That I could not answer,
I was chained to loneliness,
I, the dancer.
Willow, twinkling in the sun,
Still your leaves and hear me,
I can answer spring at last,
Love is near me!