Millions of people around the world are currently making sure they don’t fall for the latest April Fool’s prank, with even big brands getting in on the act.
Whether you’re switching the office kitchen sugar bowl with salt, or tin foiling your housemate’s bedroom, folks from all ages like to get involved with the festivities.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why we have a dedicated day of pranking?
Although no one quite knows where April Fools’ Day came from, what is known is that it dates back hundreds of years.
Here is where historians think it all began.
How did April Fools’ Day begin?
Here are some of the top theories on where the beloved pranking day came from.
April Fools Day started as a French calendar error
Back in 1582, France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar causing New Year’s Day to move from April 1 to January 1.
This was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII for all European countries.
Some believe the tradition of April Fools Day began when people continued to ring in the New Year on April 1 because they hadn’t heard about the calendar change.
These fools were laughed at by others and had tricks playing on them including paper ‘Poisson d’Avril’ (April Fish) fish stuck to their backs, symbolising being gullible like young, easily caught fish.
This tradition is still observed in Frances, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada.
April Fools Day is Mother Nature having a laugh
Others believe April Fools’ Day is actually linked to the Spring Equinox, marked on March 20 this year, and is all about mother nature unleashing unpredictable weather on everyone.
You might be fooled into thinking winter has ended, but don’t put away those winter woollies just yet because spring can be just as cold and wet despite the lovely cherry blossom.
April Fools Day could date back to the Hilaria festival
Historians have also linked the Roman festival of Hilaria to April Fools’ Day, due to people dressing in disguises during celebrations to celebrate the resurrection of the Roman God Attis.
Hilaria – also known as Roman Laughing Day – is marked on March 25 but people would continue dressing up after that until April 1 hence the link.
Other festivals have also been linked to April Fools Day including India’s Holi festival and the Sizdahbedar in Persian culture where Iranians play pranks on one another.
When did April Fools’ Day come to the UK?
It is possible that April Fools’ came to British shores as early as 1392.
This is the year that Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was written, with a story of a vain cock being tricked by a fox.
The date of this happening is believed to be April 1, with his date of ‘Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two’ thought to refer to March 32 – also known as April 1.
It is well-documented that British pranksters started playing practical jokes on one another on April 1 from at least 1700.
Anyone who is successfully fooled before midday is known as a ‘noodle’, ‘gob’, gobby’ or ‘noddy’ while anyone doing the fooling after midday is considered a fool themselves.
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