April Fools!

The history behind April Fools Day


April Fools day, which is celebrated on the first of April has been celebrated all over the world for decades. People pull pranks on friends and family and then yell “April Fools!” in celebration. The holiday is a time to showcase your creativity and sneakiness. Although the holiday is exciting its exact origin is a mystery. 

According to History.com, many historians speculate that the holiday dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar following the instruction put forth by the council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as well as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1st. 

However, given the time period, many people were slow to get the news and didn’t realize that New Years’ was now going to be celebrated on the 1st of January. So, many people continued to celebrate the new year during the last week of March through April 1st. These people became known as “April Fools.” Pranks such as having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize an easily caught fish and a gullible person.

There are also historians who believe that April Fools dates back to festivals such as Hilaria (joyful in Latin). Hilaria was celebrated in ancient Rome during the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens or even magistrates and was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris, and Seth.

During the 18th century, April Fools spread throughout Britain and In Scotland became a two-day celebration. People were sent on phony errands called “hunting the gowk” because gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, which is a symbol for a fool. There was also Taille Day, which entailed pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on people.

Layla Johnson ‘22 says “I had no idea there was a history behind April Fools Day. I always thought it was an excuse to play pranks on people. I also think it’s so funny how far back “kick me signs” and small pranks like that go.” 

Today April Fools is still widely celebrated and people make it their mission to go all out. Radio shows, newscasters, and fast-food restaurants all participate in this light-hearted holiday. Jack Gurveitch ‘22 says “my favorite prank to pull on April Fools day is the classic whoopee cushion.” 

If you love practical jokes and pranks, April Fools is definitely the holiday for you. What’s your favorite April Fools day memory?