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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Fake news, indeed: The day to beware of pranks

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

Did “El Chapo” escape custody in the United States? Did the dome of the Cathedral collapse? Did Disney buy Chichén Itza?

No, no, no.

April Fool’s day comes late — or maybe it’s early — in most of Latin America, including Mexico. Every Dec. 28 is the Dia de los Inocentes, a day of pranks.

And even the mainstream media relishes being a source of “fake news” today. Another dubious headline: The president is going to retire to Yucatán, settling at Arrecife Alacranes and building himself a mansion, a golf course and heliport. That last part is the zinger because the reef is a nature preserve where some bigwigs illegally landed a helicopter last year.

Dia de Los Inocentes dates back some 2,000 years with very somber origins. Originally, it was a religious holiday to honor the male infants, no older than 2, who were ordered slaughtered by King Herod around the time of Jesus’ birth.

These young victims were called Santos Inocentes or “Holy Innocents” because they were too young to have committed any sins.

During the Middle Ages, pagan rites were introduced into the celebration. The time came to be known as the “El Dia de Los Locos” (“Celebration of the Crazy People”) which took place between Christmas and New Year.

At that time a new tradition began that combined pagan and Christian teachings, by way of some light-hearted monks, with the thrust of pulling all types of pranks on unsuspecting family and friends, not to mention readers.

Although it remains on the Catholic Liturgical calendar, Dia de los Inocentes is mainly Latin America’s version of April Fool’s Day.

Not all pranks are particularly amusing. Friends borrow money from friends, and then refuse to repay it. Office workers forge a letter from management informing a colleague she is being transferred to another state.

Erika Beultelspacher de la Torre, president of Coparmex, told her friends she was pregnant for the fourth time — and then zinged them with the truth, that she was just kidding, according to Diario de Yucatán. Then she told them she was reconciling with her ex-husband. Her gullible friends encouraged her until she admitted that she had once again fooled them.

In Tizimín, one former student told Diario that about six years ago, his teacher told the class it was his birthday. They arranged a cake and a present, which was met with laughter when they started singing “Las Mañanitas.” The maestro admitted his birthday wasn’t really until March.

We promise to be prank-free today, although we can’t make this promise on April 1 if we are so inspired.

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