April Fool's Day Trivia
April Fool’s Day, as far back as I can remember, has always been a day to pull pranks on your friends, family and occasionally complete strangers. But how many of us have thought about the origins of the “holiday” (if you can really call it that)? So here is a little information about April Fool’s Day and why it has significance.
Like all holidays, or day of reverence, there is a festival to signify something of importance. Mostly in western societies, holidays are Christianized pagan feast days, and April Fool’s Day is no different. In ancient Rome there was a festival called Hilaria (the origins if the word Hilarious) that was held on March 25, and there was Medieval festival of fool, called “Día de los Santos Inocentes” on December 28 which was a day for pranks, still celebrated in South and Central American countries.
There’s the tale that the day goes back to 483 AD when the catholic calendar was change from the Gregorian calendar to the Julian calendar (the change was about a 3-month difference), and people made fun of those who stayed with the Georgian calendar as appose to the new Julian calendar.
Throughout history there have been pranksters and pranks: In 1539, The Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote about a nobleman who, on the first of April, decided to send some of his servants out to run a of bunch silly chores. The first time in Britain that the day, called “Fooles holy day,” was written about, was by John Aubrey in 1686. Sometime later, April 1, 1698, people were fooled into visiting the Tower of London, apparently to "see the Lions washed".
Here are some other “April fools days” type celebration days around the world:
1. The 13th day of the Persian New Year (Norouz), which falls on April 1, is prank-filled day for Iranians. This day, dated as far back as 536 BC, is considered the oldest prank-tradition in the world still practiced. Many people believe that this is the basis for today’s April Fools' Day.
2. In France, Romandy and French-speaking Canada there is, poisson d'avril ("April's fish"). A person attempts to stick a paper fish onto someone back without them knowing about it (similar to a “kick me” sign); it is also celebrated in Italy; known as Pesce d’aprile.
3. There is a Flemish tradition, in Belgium, where children lock their parents out of the house unless they promise to bring them treats.
4. Every year, on the first day of snow fall, during the Joseon dynasty in Korea, the royal family and their courtiers would tell lies and pull pranks on each other.
5. In Poland, prima aprilis (Latin for "April 1") is considered a great prank day, even having the media and government getting involved. In fact, the anti-Turkish alliance that was signed by Leopold I on April 1, 1683, was backdated to March 31 to make sure that everyone knew that it was serious and not a joke!
6. April Fools' Day, in Scotland, was once called Hunt-the-Gowk Day (hunt the fool). The traditional prank was a sealed message reading "Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile". After reading it one would try to pass the message to someone, who would do the same and on and on, so they wouldn’t be stuck with letter and so be the fool. Kind of like “tag you’re it”.
Playing pranks on each other is just part of human nature, and probably goes back as a far as humanity has been around. At times, I think that having an official day set aside just for joking around is probably just as silly as the pranks themselves. I know people who live everyday as if it’s April Fool Day: always looking to outdo their last prank on some expecting recipient. However; if it’s all in good fun, there’s nothing better than having a good laugh, and the only thing better than a good laugh at someone else’s expense is being able to laugh at yourself every once in a while. Happy April Fool’s Day!
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