origin of April Fools’ Day

1 04, 2019

Where did April Fools’ Day Come From?

By |2019-03-31T19:45:45-05:00April 1st, 2019|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Today is officially April Fools’ Day, the day when pranks and pranksters abound.

Playing jokes and tricking people, celebrated in many different cultures, has been around for centuries, but no one knows its origins for sure.

My favorite theory is April Fool’s Day is of French origin and dates back to 1582 when the Council of Trent required the French to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

King Charles IX declared New Year’s Day to be April 1 which meant the traditional Boxing Day gift exchange on the first day of the New Year was moved to the new date in April.

Many honored the new date and presented their family and friends with gifts, mainly fish because April 1 falls within Lent, the 40-day period when meat consumption is forbidden.

Those who embraced the new calendar started to mock the reluctant ones, offering false presents and playing tricks on them. Those who are tricked or fooled are called April Fools or Poisson d’avril (April Fish).

Eventually the real fish tradition evolved into the exchange of fish-shaped cakes then paper fish associated with jokes and hoaxes.

School-aged children in France design paper fish to stick on the back of some unsuspecting person. Much like children in the US kick me signs.

April Fools’ Day is a popular, widespread day but not an official public holiday in any of the many countries where it’s recognized. No one seems to want to grant formal recognition to a day that allows attaching paper fish or playing pranks on unsuspecting folks.

Wherever April Fools’ Day originated, it’s a perfect day to enjoy some laughter with family, friends, and coworkers. A few smiles and laughs are important for a balanced life, don’t you think?

3 04, 2017

Why April Fools’ Day?

By |2017-03-03T14:53:32-06:00April 3rd, 2017|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Last Saturday was April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day when jokes, hoaxes, and silly things are allowed and welcomed.

The tradition, celebrated in many different cultures, has been around for several centuries, but its origins remain a mystery.

Some say it dates back to 1582 when the Council of Trent required the French to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

Because news traveled so slowly in those days, many people continued to celebrate the New Year from the last week of March to April 1 and became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. Many found a paper fish placed on their backs to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person or “poisson d’avril” (April fish).

Another theory links April Fools’ Day to the ancient festival Hilaria. A feast celebrated in Rome at the end of March where people dressed up in disguises.

Historians speculate the holiday is tied to the vernal equinox or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere when Mother Nature’s unpredictable weather fooled people.

Check this site for other detailed theories.

Whatever the origin, by the 18th century, April Fools’ Day celebrations began to spread throughout Britain. A traditional Scottish festivities involve a two-day event, beginning with hunting the gowk (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) where people are sent on phony errands. The next day, Tailie Day, fake tails or “kick me” signs are pinned on people’s derrieres.

These days, newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites participate in the tomfoolery of April 1 with the reporting of outrageous fictional claims to fool their audiences.

One of the most famous is the 1957 BBC report of Swiss farmers’ record spaghetti crop. Footage of workers harvesting noodles was shown.

Sports Illustrated tricked its 1985 readers with a made-up article about Sidd Finch, a rookie pitcher, who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

Fast-food restaurant chain Taco Bell claimed to have purchased Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell in 1996 and planned to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

Burger King advertised a new “Left-Handed Whopper,” in 1998. All the condiments rotated by 180 degrees “thereby redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of them skew to the left” and reducing spills for lefties. Scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

In 2013, Twitter announced a free “Twttr” version that would not support vowels and only allow tweets with consonants. “Twitter” would be a $5 per month service supporting any letter. The letter Y would always be free to everyone.

How’d your April Fools’ Day go? Were you the brunt of any jokes, pranks, or hoaxes this year?

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