Photo: Freepik
April’s Fool day: Date, Origin & Celebrations. Photo: Freepik

When is April Fools’ Day?

April Fools’ Day—celebrated on April 1 each year—has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, though its exact origins remain a mystery. April Fools’ Day traditions include playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others, often yelling “April Fools!” at the end to clue in the subject of the April Fools’ Day prank. While its exact history is shrouded in mystery, the embrace of April Fools’ Day jokes by the media and major brands has ensured the unofficial holiday’s long life.

April Fools' Day History

Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1.

People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person, History noted.

Photo: Time and Date

Photo: Time and Date

There’s no question that April Fools’ Day is one of the most widely recognized non-religious holidays in the Western world. Children prank parents, coworkers prank coworkers, and yes, national news outlets and fast-food restaurants still prank their readers. But why? What is the origin of April Fools’ Day, and how did it become an international phenomenon?

The totally-legit, not-pulling-your-leg answer to the origin of April Fools’ Day is: Nobody really knows. April Fools’ Day is apparently an ancient enough tradition that the earliest recorded mentions, like the following excerpt from a 1708 letter to Britain’s Apollo magazine, ask the same question we do: “Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?” Celebrate the long-running tradition of jokes with these April Fools’ Day office pranks that basically anyone can pull off, according to RD.

READ MORE: April Fools' Day: Funny Sms, Text Messages, Jokes

April Fools’ Day traditions and customs around the world

Photo: Learnenglish Britishcouncil
Photo: Learnenglish Britishcouncil

UK

It is still common around the UK today, that those who are made the ‘fool’ by falling for a trick will hear the words “April Fool” shouted at them. Tradition says that pranks should cease to be played by 12pm, and those who continue to play pranks are then considered to be the fool.

Ireland

In Ireland, the tradition used to be to entrust the ‘April Fool’ with an ‘important letter’ which was to be given to a specific person. That person would then ask the ‘April Fool’ to take it to someone else, and so on and so forth. When the letter was finally opened it contained the words ‘send the fool further’, the joke then finally revealing itself, Scotsman noted.

Scotland

In Scotland, April Fool's Day is celebrated over two days. Called Taily Day, The second day is devoted to pranks involving the buttocks. The "kick me" sign can be traced back to Taily Day.

Mexico

Mexico's equivalent to April Fool's Day is on December 28th. Originally, the day was a sombre remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by King Herod, though over the years, it has evolved into a light-hearted commemoration involving pranks and tricks.

France

In France the April fool is known as 'poisson d'avril' (April fish). It is not known what exactly the fish refers to, but it may be related to the sun leaving Pieces (the fish) at the start of April. A part of the tradition in France was the placing of dead fish unknowingly on the backs of friends. Today, real fish have been replaced with fish-shaped paper shapes that children try to sneak onto the back of their friends' shirts. Shops and bakeries also offer special fish-shaped sweets.

Netherlands

The Dutch have separate reasons for celebrating the 1st of April. In 1572, the Netherlands were under Spanish rule. On April 1, 1572 Dutch rebels seized the town of Den Briel. This marked the start of the general civil rising against the Spanish across the Netherlands. The Duke of Alba was the commander of the Spanish army at the time, and he could not prevent the uprising from gathering momentum. Bril is the Dutch word for glasses, so it was said that "Alba lost his glasses." The Dutch commemorate this with jokes and humour on the first of April, Officeholidays added.

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