- Mark Twain -
When you think of April Fool's Day, what comes to mind first? Playing pranks on people, of course. A time-honored tradition. But, the question is, when did this tradition start?
"Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start". The only problem is, the beginning is lost in the mists of time. We can only guess when this holiday started.
In 1545, the Council of Trent authorized a calendar reform. For some reason, this didn't come about until Pope Gregory XIII began his reign in 1572. In 1582 when Gregory changed the calendar, King Charles IX of France declared that January 1 was to be the first day of the year. Up until this time, festivities began on March 25 and ended on April 1, which marked the first day of the year.
As you might guess, this didn't go over too well with much of the population. So they continued to celebrate the first of the year on April 1. This led to people playing pranks on the ones who wouldn't change. They were called "Poisson d'Avril" or April Fish (because the sun is leaving the zodiacal sign of Pisces at that time of year) . Schoolchildren would put paper fish on the backs of their classmates as a practical joke. Adults would be sent fake invitations to parties.
Some 200 years later, the custom of playing pratical jokes on people on April 1 spread to England. The custom had also spread to Scotland, where people are called "April Gawks" or April Cuckoos. Also, in Scotland, April Fool's Day lasts for 48 hours. The second day is Taily Day and the pranks that are played on people involve their bottoms. This is where the "kick me" sign originated.
When people from the European countries started coming to the colonies in America, they brought the tradition of April Fool's Day with them. People would be sent to look for "sweet vinegar" or "The History of Adam's Grandfather".
In other countries there is a day set aside for mischief as well. In India, there is the feast of Huli which is celebrated in March. On March 31, people play pranks on each other. In Latin American countries, there is El Dia de los Inocentes which is celebrated on December 28. It "was set aside as a day for Christians to mourn Herod's slaughter of innocent children. Over time, the tone of that 'unluckiest of days' has evolved from sadness to good-natured trickery. Even the media join the fun, often running bogus news stories and radio reports."
Wherever this holiday came from, it is without a doubt one of the most fun-filled days of the year.
(Sources Used - April Fool's Day - History, April Fool's Day (April 1), April Fools Day History, Misc/april fools day origin of)
Is set apart for All Fools' Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.
-- Poor Robin's Almanac (1790) -
Learn About Easter