April Fools!

For many, the fact that April Fools Day has just past is such a relief. This holiday comes once a year on the first day of every April, and is notorious for its pranks and cruel jokes. We have been living through this famous day for as long as we can remember, but do any of us truly know where the one day of year where nobody is safe comes from? Let’s look back at history. The origin of this day is slightly unclear, due to the fact that there are many theories regarding it. One of the most popular theories is the one including Pope George XIII, who ordered in the late 1500’s, possibly 1582, that Christian countries, particularly France, change their calendars to the Roman one. This would mean that the Julian calendar would have to be switched to the Gregorian calendar. With this alteration, the new year would be moved from its original date in the spring on April 1st to it’s new date in the winter on January 1st, which we have adopted as well for our celebration of New Year’s. Due to the fact that it was the 16th century, and there were many who resided in rural areas at the time, it took a while for news to spread that New Years had been moved. There were also those who simply refused to recognize the shift. Anyone who continued to celebrate the old New Year’s date was classified as “April Fools,” which is where we get the holiday’s name from. Spring celebrators were mocked, and had paper fish stuck onto their backs without their knowledge, which symbolized an “easy to catch fish,” or a gullible person, also called “Poisson D’Avril” in French. America is not the only country who has a day in the year specifically dedicated to silliness. India celebrates a spring festival called Holi, in which people play jokes and throw dyes at each other. Iran celebrates the holiday of Sizdah Bedar, in which pranks are also played on April 1st. According to the Museum of Hoaxes, “It’s more likely that April Fool’s Day resembles these other celebrations because they’re all manifestations of a deeper pattern of folk behavior — an instinct to respond to the arrival of spring with festive mischief and symbolic misrule,” and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

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