The origin of April Fools’ Day

MNA Feature Desk: April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-heated days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated every year on the day by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called fools. People playing jokes expose their prank by shouting April Fool.

Some newspapers, magazines, and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.


The Day started as a French calendar error: Back in 1582, France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar causing New Year’s Day to move from April 1st to January 1.

This was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII fopr all European countries. Some believe the tradition of April Fools Day began when people continued to ring in the New Year on April 1st because they hadn’t heard about the calendar change.

These fools were laughed at by others and had tricks playing on them including paper ‘Poisson d’Avril’ (April Fish) fish stuck to their backs, symbolizing being gullible like young, easily caught fish.

This tradition is still observed in Frances, Belgium and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada.

The Day is Mother Nature having a laugh: Others believe April Fools’ Day is actually linked to the Spring Equinox, marked on March 20 this year and is all about Mother Nature unleashing unpredictable weather on everyone.

You might be fooled into thinking winter has ended, but don’t put away those winter woollies just yet because spring can be just as cold and wet despite the lovely cherry blossom.

The Day dates back to the Hilaria festival: Historians have also linked the Roman festival of Hilaria to April Fools’ Day, due to people dressing in disguises during celebrations to celebrate the resurrection of the Roman God Attis.

Hilaria – also known as Roman Laughing Day – is marked on March 25 but people would continue dressing up after that until the day hence the link. Other festivals have also been linked to April Fools Day including India’s Holi festival and the Sizdahbedar in Persian culture where Iranians play pranks on one another.

However, the Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a “fool’s errand,” looking for things that don’t exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

The French call Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.

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