April Fool’s Day

The History of April Fool’s Day

The true origins of April Fool’s Day remains a mystery to historians. There are a handful of theories as to how this goofy holiday came to be. Stories of April Fool’s Day date back to 1582, when the French were changing from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. Under the new calendar the New Year began January 1st. Those who were a “fool” and hadn’t received the news were found celebrating the “new year” at the end of March into April. These people became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. An alternate theory explores the idea that April Fool’s Day is based around the Spring Equinox, the changing of seasons. This idea evolved because Mother Nature has a tendency of “fooling” us with the unpredictable weather.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1st tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences.