April Fools Graphic 
April Fool’s Graphic (license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Marco Verch

April Fool’s!

The history behind the first of April.

The first of April is known for the pranks that people will play on each other, but why is this the case? How did this tradition even begin?


calendar (rawpixel.com)

Though its exact origins are not known, there is some speculation as to when April Fool’s Day began and why. One theory is that it’s celebration dates back to 1582. This was when France officially switched over to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar. Whereas the Gregorian calendar begins on January 1st, the Julian calendar actually started around the spring equinox, or April 1st. Since the word was not spread quickly or effectively, some people still celebrated the New Year as being April 1st which lead to those people being called “April fools” since they did not celebrate the New Year at the right time.

(license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/) (Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup)

There are also two other theories as to the beginning of the celebration. The first of these being a connection to ancient Rome. The Romans who followed the Cybele cult had a festival, Hilaria, which was celebrated at the end of March. Those who were involved would dress up and mock others. Some believe that this is possibly how the pranking tradition of April Fool’s began.

The last theory behind its origins are that its celebration is connected to the vernal equinox. The idea is that it stems from an idea that Mother Nature fools people with her continually changing weather around this time.


Poisson d’avril
(license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/) (Ian Thomas)

Traditions exist across the world exist. For example, in France, someone who was fooled would be called “poisson d’avril”, or the April fish. The name’s origin comes from a young fish which can be caught easily. Children in France will pin a fish made of paper onto each other’s backs as a prank.

Another place with an April Fool’s day celebration is Scotland. There, the day is called Gowkie Day after the gowk which is a symbol for a fool. On the day following Gowkie Day, people would prank their friends by pinning “kick me” signs on their backs.

Other countries around the world will also find ways to celebrate. One main prankster is the media since they may publish fake news stories or headlines as an April Fool’s joke. However, children will also participate in playing pranks in schools as well as at home or on their friends. All in all, April Fool’s day has a fascinating history with much still unknown, but celebrations filled with pranks are sure to ensue.

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