Every year on December 28th, many people in Mexico and other Latin American countries enjoy making jokes and pranks on their friends and family. This day is known as Dia de los Inocentes or Day of the Innocents, and it is similar to April Fools’ Day in other parts of the world. However, behind the laughter and fun, there is also a religious and historical meaning to this date.
According to the Christian tradition, Dia de los Inocentes commemorates the massacre of innocent children ordered by King Herod, who wanted to kill the newborn Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew narrates that Herod was afraid of losing his throne after hearing from the Magi that a new king of the Jews had been born in Bethlehem. He then sent his soldiers to slaughter all the male children under two years old in the town and its surroundings. However, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had already fled to Egypt, escaping the cruel fate.
The Catholic Church honors the martyrs of this event as the Holy Innocents and celebrates their feast day on December 28th. In some places, especially in Spain, the clergy and the faithful would perform humorous acts and mock ceremonies in the churches, as a way of remembering the joy of the birth of Christ and the innocence of the children. This custom spread to the colonies in America, where it mixed with the indigenous and African cultures, creating a unique and diverse celebration.
Today, Dia de los Inocentes is mainly a day of jokes and hoaxes, where people try to trick each other with false news, stories, or requests. The media also participates in this tradition, publishing fake headlines or reports that are later revealed as pranks. The typical phrase that is said to the victims of the jokes is “Inocente Palomita que te dejaste engañar, sabiendo que en este día nada se puede prestar”, which means “Innocent little dove that you let yourself be fooled, knowing that on this day nothing can be lent”. The phrase refers to the common practice of asking for something borrowed and not returning it, as a way of teasing the unsuspecting person.
Dia de los Inocentes is a day that reflects the humor and creativity of the Mexican people, as well as their religious and cultural heritage. It is a day to have fun, but also to remember the sacrifice of the innocent children who died for Christ.
With information from OEM