Origin of April Fools’ Day- Everything you need to know

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origin of April Fools'

Now I could have written a scandalous headline as a click bait. But I know our readers are smart. Nobody falls for “sensational news'” on April 1 anymore. Or at least I hope so! 😛 So what is the origin of April Fools’ Day? Where does it come from? Why do we celebrate it? I have got all the answers for you right here. So keep reading.

What exactly is April Fools’ Day?

On the first day of April every year, April Fools’ Day is celebrated by playing harmless pranks on other people. Once they fall for your pranks, you call out the victim as “April Fool”. Though an invention of the European and Western countries, it has also caught on back home. For instance, newspapers and websites publish fake stories, images etc.

origin of April Fools'

What is the origin of April Fools’ Day?

Well, there is no one certain story of origin of April Fools’. There are many stories that make the round this time of the year. For example, according to one legend, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

“In a way,” explained Prof. Boskin, “it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor.”

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

origin of April Fools'

In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1.

In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the celebration as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. Also, the Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there’s something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations.

So whichever legend you choose to believe, it is great to know that we still have a day where we can all be a little “foolish” and not be so stuck up about it.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

-Mrinaal Datt

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