April Fools' Day History

Table of contents

    April Fools’ Day is April 1st every year. It is a time where pranksters around the world rejoice. It is one day a year where people can play practical jokes on each other without it being frowned upon, in theory. But how did it all start? Here’s a little history on April Fools’ Day’s possible beginnings.

    April Fools Day

    The prevailing theory is a tale of two calendars. Julius Caesar came up with his own in 46 B.C., and honoured Janus, the god of new beginnings, by starting the year off Jan. 1. When Christianity began taking hold, however, many Christians wanted to celebrate April 1 as New Year’s Day, because seasonally that day was closest to Easter. Since Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, starting the year on that day was a suiting commemoration.Other cultures also saw April 1 as a fitting way to begin the year, as it was closest to the vernal equinox, the time when the whole earth was being renewed with springtime life.Then, Pope Gregory XIII came along with his own calendar. He wanted to get everyone on the same page, so he “officially” marked Jan. 1 as the day the New Year would begin.But there were still folks who clung to April 1 and were ridiculed for their stubbornness. They were April fools. And, let’s face it, if a person is confused as to which day is which, wouldn’t they fall for silly pranks and hoaxes as well?We, of course, play tricks on April 1 here in Canada, but the day of hoaxing is also big in Brazil, America and England. In Scotland, they celebrate two days in a row. The first day is called “Hunt the Gowk Day.” A gowk is a cuckoo bird, but the whole hunting part is akin to our snipe hunt tradition. The second day specifically targets peoples’ hind quarters — in fact, it’s rumoured that sticking a “kick me!” sign on someone’s back had its origin from this Scottish tradition.In France, they call it “Fish Day” (Poisson d’Avril) because people stick paper fish on each other’s backs.The Jewish people have their own days of hoaxy fun on Purim, a celebration of overcoming a plot to destroy the Jews and recounted in the Book of Esther. Celebrated in early spring, past pranks pulled include video footage of UFO’s flying over the Temple Mount, and a plan to sell Western Wall space to advertisers.There have been some great April Fools’ pranks perpetrated down through the ages — the Museum of Hoaxes has the top 100.No. 1 on their list came way back on April 1, 1957 with “The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.” A British news magazine television program called “Panorama” aired a 2 1/2-minute segment featuring a bunch of people in trees pulling down long strings of spaghetti. They said there was a bumper crop that year because the “spaghetti weevil” had greatly diminished in the region — and there was a very mild winter. When gullible folks called the station for advice on growing their own spaghetti trees, they were instructed to “place a string of spaghetti” into a can of tomato sauce.Courtesy of Albin Sadar The BlazeSome people believe that there should be no more pranks after 12 noon on April 1st however some people believe just the opposite. It’s Called April Fools’ Day not morning! In any event be on alert for April Fools’ pranks today, you were given fair warning!

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