April Fool’s Day: What is the History of the Holiday, or is it Just a Hoax?

Courtesy of: iStock Photo

Courtesy of: iStock Photo

Shannon Raneri, Writer

Yep, it’s April 1st, April Fool’s Day, where it is apparently acceptable to pull pranks and jokes and fool any unsuspecting person around. The funniest thing about today? No one knows how or when it actually started.  Here’s a brief rundown of some of the origins of April Fool’s Day, and you decide which one seems the best (or the most far-fetched):

Some historians believe April Fool’s Day started with the Ancient Romans and the celebration of Hilaria at the end of March. This festival would be held on the vernal (spring) equinox, the first day of the year in which the daytime was longer than the night. Games, amusements, and masquerades in which you could pretend to be other people were allowed during this festive celebration.

Other historians date April Fool’s Day to when the French switched from the Julian calendar (the new year began with the spring equinox) to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. People who didn’t catch on to the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year around April were often called fools and became the victims of pranks and jokes.

In the 1700s in Scotland, April Fool’s Day caught on and became a 2-day tradition. During these 2 days, “fools” were sent on phony errands, and while doing so, pranks were played on gullible people, often including fake tails or “kick me” signs on their behinds… yeah….

British historians credit April Fool’s day to an incident in 13th-century Nottinghamshire. King John wanted to take some of the land for a new hunting lodge, which the locals were not fond of. To discourage the king from his potential new investment, the townfolk decided to carry out many foolish activities while the King is visiting to dissuade him. It apparently worked, as the soldiers who came to visit before the king saw a town full of lunatics and therefore the King decided to not even pass through this foolish town.

Recent April Fool’s Day pranks include Taco Bell announcing they’re buying and renaming the Liberty Bell, Cauliflower-flavored Peeps, penguins flying in Antarctica, being able to pitch a tent outside of Windsor Castle, National Geographic not printing any more pictures of naked animals, and Burger King’s left-handed Whopper!

Whatever the joke, whether you’re the jokester or recipient of the jokester, may you not think of yourself as that big of a fool today!