The first of April isn’t just another ordinary day. Also known as April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day, it is celebrated in a number of countries including America, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
The origin of April Fool’s Day is actually anybody’s guess but it is known that it came to England from France or
Germany in the mid 17th Century. At one time April 1st coincided with the New Year and was celebrated as such until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the new Gregorian Calendar to replace the Julian Calendar. With there being no computers, telephones and other speedy forms of communication, word did not travel very fast in those days and therefore many people continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on 1st April while some rebelled against this change in their old traditions.
With some embracing a new system and others fighting progress it is thought that those following the new system mocked the others who were behind-the-times and sent them on fool’s errands such as to seek non-existent objects like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow in order to have some fun at their expense.
People in England, Germany, Denmark and Norway continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on the 1st April up
until the mid 1700s, the Scottish adopted the new calendar in 1660.
April’s Fool Day has also been associated with ancient festivals such as Hilaria which was to celebrate the resurrection of the god Attis in ancient Rome when people would dress up in various guises and the Holi festival in India which celebrates the arrival of spring. During this celebration people play jokes on each other.
Tricks and hoaxes in England can only be played up until noon. In France the victim of the prank is called an April Fish while in Scotland they are called an April Gowk (gowk is a cuckoo or another word for a fool!) Anyone who tries to continue the jokes into the afternoon are likely to bring bad luck upon themselves!
According to themuseum of hoaxes the best April Fool’s joke of all time occurred in 1957 when the BBC news program “Panorama” based a full program on the spaghetti. Crops in Switzerland and how due to the mild winter and virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper crop. Some viewers failed to see the funny side, others wanted to know where they could purchase their own spaghetti bush!
Many people love the excuse to play pranks on others and take full advantage of this opportunity on April Fool’s Day, others prefer to keep their heads down and breathe a sigh of relief when the clock strikes twelve!