The Origins of April Fools Day

April Fools Day is a day every year that pranksters, kids, and even some adults look forward to. They spend the day pulling pranks on their family and friends, sometimes slightly annoying them and sometimes causing them to join in on the fun. While most of us know about the tradition of April Fools Day and even planned “brilliant” pranks when we were children, no one knows what the real reason is that we started celebrating April Fools Day. It remains a mystery that is the cause of great speculation even today.

Historians have speculated for many years, but so far, they haven’t been able to find a set reason as to why April Fools Day became a holiday. They have many guesses, however, that would make sense for why this holiday became a thing.

One theory many historians have is that April Fools Day might have started all the way back in 1582. At that time, France had switched to a Gregorian calendar from a Julian calendar. But, the new year starts on April 1 in the Julian calendar, so many French citizens were confused when the calendars were switched. People who didn’t realize that the new year now started on January 1 instead of the previous April 1 were mocked and pranked. Many people started calling them “April fools,” which is probably where the name of the holiday came from. Along with being called fools, these citizens were also called “April fish” and had paper fish put on them to show that they were gullible people.

Historians have also thought that April Fools Day could have come from an ancient Roman festival called Hilaria. On Hilaria, disguises were worn and citizens were mocked by others.

April Fools Day could have also come from the fact that it was considered the first day of spring, so people might have established it as April Fools Day because the weather changed uncertainly.

Regardless of how April Fools Day started, it spread until it became a tradition here in the United States. In the 18th Century in Britain, April Fools Day had begun to spread. In Scotland it became a two day event where people were sent to do fake tasks and pranked each other with things like “kick me” signs.

So, now you know some of the older traditions that have evolved to our modern day traditions for April Fools Day. I hope everyone reading this has a wickedly fun April Fools Day and found this an interesting look behind the scenes of April Fools Day.

Sources:

History.com Editors. “April Fools’ Day.” Published March 30, 2017, Last Updated March 23, 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/april-fools-day. Accessed April 1, 2022.

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