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An All Joke Aside Look Into The Origins Of April Fool’s Day

The first of April is coming up again and you know what that means: Time for the yearly shenanigans! Have you ever wondered, though, why April First is a day for fools?

All Fools’ Day

All Fools’ Day became an official day on the calendar in England in the early 1700s. However, many cultures have celebrated this time of year for centuries. Crazy, right?

Pixabay

While it’s exact origins remain a mystery despite historians’ best efforts, most agree that this whimsical holiday started sometime around the latter half of the 16th century A.D.

Poisson d’Avril

No, that isn’t gibberish, it’s French for April fish. You’d probably like an explanation. It all started when the Council of Trent was called in 1545 A.D. The Catholic church decided that the Julian calendar was outdated and had Europe switch to the Gregorian calendar. This added two months to our calendar year and switched the new year from April first to January first.

Wikimedia Commons

In France, not everyone got the memo and those who continued to celebrate the new year on April 1st were ridiculed and pranked. What does this have to do with fish though? Well, those that failed to recognize the change were called poisson d’Avril, or fish of April meaning they were gullible or “easily hooked.”

Another Theory

A less popular theory is that the weather in the northern hemisphere tends to be extremely unpredictable and that this often made people look unprepared or foolish.

However the holiday got its start, it’s now celebrated widely throughout the world. The Scots set aside not one but two days for the fool, the first being a day to send people on false errands. This is known as the “day of the gowk,” gowk being another name for the cuckoo bird commonly associated with being foolish. The second, “Tailie Day,” is a day set aside for pranks involving one’s backside such as pinning tails on people. Let the pranks commence and have a good April Fools’ Day!

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