On this day, three-hundred and twenty-one years ago, influential British jokesters began popularising the yearly celebration of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on one another.
Although this day, additionally known as All Fools’ Day, has been commemorated for countless centuries by a multitude of cultures in varying locations, its precise origin is actually unknown.
Nonetheless, an exciting exploration throughout the annals of history has uncovered some amazing and nteresting facts about the hallowed holiday of hijinks and hilarity.
Prior to the 1500s, the Western world utilized a calendar system implemented by Julius Caesar with New Year’s Day being noted as March 25.
Consequently, festivals celebrating the start of the New Year were postponed until the first day of April since March 25th fell during a week of sacred, religious celebrations.
As a result, secularized events involving libations and other elements not suited for Roman Catholic observances weren’t held until April 1st.
Beginning in the 1500s, the Western World adopted the Gregorian calendar and moved the New Year to January 1st.
According to the most widely-believed origin stories postulated for April Fools’ Day, those who could be tricked into believing April 1 was still the proper day to celebrate the New Year earned were jovially referred to as “April fools.”
To this end, French peasants would unexpectedly visit neighbors on April 1st solely to fool them into believing they were receiving a New Year’s call. Out of that one prank grew the tradition of testing the patience of one’s family and friends.
CELEBRATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Italy, Belgium, France, and Quebec often refer to April Fools’ Day as April Fish. Part of this custom is to attach a paper fish to someone’s back as a joke, without being noticed. This is referred to as ‘Poisson d’Avril’.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout the powerful British Empire throughout the 18th Century. It is important to note that the British Empire colonized portions of the Americas, Africa, and India during this time-period. Naturally, the celebration of April Fools’ Day spread globally as a result of this British influence. Moreover, the UK’s Scottish citizens implemented a two-day celebration of April 1st, beginning with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s rear ends, such as the pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.
On April Fools’ Day, 1976, the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) convinced many listeners that a special alignment of the planets would temporarily decrease gravity on Earth. Phone lines were flooded with callers who claimed they felt the effects.
In 2008, BBC again telecasted news saying penguins in Antarctica started flying. It’s not just that! It stated that those penguins had flown to South America’s tropical rainforests. Dear BBC, we love your sense of humor!