No one is exactly sure when or why it started!
It doesn’t celebrate any particular thing!
There is a strong case for the belief, that the beginning of the holiday started in 1582, when a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar) was ordered to replace the old Julian calendar. January 1st was adapted as the New Year’s Day. Prior to that time, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning March 25 and ending on April 1. This timing was set to correspond with the Vernal Equinox, the beginning of spring, thus the beginning of year, or so it had been for most of the world.
Communication was slow in those days, usually by word of mouth and by foot-messengers. Some folks didn’t receive the announcement of change for years. Others refused to accept the change when they did find out.
Those who celebrated the New Year in the Mar-Apr time were soon considered “backward” and labeled “fools”. They were subject to ridicule and often send on “fool’s errands” or made the butt of practical jokes.
This sounds like a responsible explanation. However, the only problem with this scenario is that there are references made to “April Fool” and “All Fools Day” in writings long before that.
Some say, that the original April Fool celebration was the remembrance of the day Noah sent out his dove too early, before the water had receded. The first day of Hebrew month calendar corresponds with April 1st)
In 1392, Chaucer made what seemed to be a joke about March lasting 32 days, then, it became May.
In 1509, a French poet referred to an “April Fish” which might be a reference to April Fool.
There was a medieval holiday held on Dec 28 called the “Feast of Fools.”
So we still have no definite source for this celebration of playing jokes on others.
The celebrating seemed to first really take hold in the United Kingdom, and spread from there to the British colonies, Americas and France.
In 1698, some people were tricked into going to the tower of London, to “see Lions washed”. This definitely sounds like an April Fool’s Day prank.
In Scotland, April Fool’s is celebrated for two days. The second day is called “Taily Day”, and is devoted to pranks involving the “posterior region” of the body. The origin of the “kick me” sign can be traced back to Scotland’s Taily Day.
In some countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, jokes are only tolerated until noon, anyone playing a joke after noon was called a “trickster” or “April Fool”.
In the United Kingdom, the morning edition of the newspaper would run an April Fool’s headline. The afternoon edition would have the real news.
In most countries it lasts all day.
It’s not my favorite day. It has no costumes. No decorating. And no special food to go with it.
Although I have played a benign joke or two in my day, I think this holiday needs some fun that’s not stinky and doesn’t bite you. Let’s come up with some great recipes, put on some funny nose glasses for everyone and make some great decorations with clothes pins and balloons and I might raise my opinion.
Well, I know some people love it! So Enjoy!
Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed—Mark Twain
Looking foolish does the spirit good—John Updike
(He obviously never had his pantyhose slip down in public.)