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Incorrect Theories about the Origins of April Fools Day

Updated on July 9, 2011

Well established misconceptions of how April Fool’s Day began

Sizdah Bedar in Ancient Persian times

It has been said by some people that April Fool’s day came from the ancient Persian celebration of “Sizdah Bedar” the earliest record of this tradition dates back to 536 BC.

It is interesting to note that this celebration does not always fall on April fool’s Day every year.

How did the ancients celebrate this tradition?

On this day everyone in the village would leave their homes and go out into the fields or forests for the day. There was an ancient belief that on this day the Demons would roam through everyone’s homes freely causing whatever mischief they wished to cause. These Demons would start to arrive with the first rays of the sun and wouldn’t leave until the last rays of the sun left the Earth for the day. The people of this time believed that by allowing the Demons a day to do their mischief inside the homes, the homes would then be left alone and free from Demons for the remainder of the year. Sounds like a fabulous idea to me. They also believed that anyone caught still at home when the Demons arrived would be cursed with illness and bring bad luck to the village.

During their day outside the village the people would play games and have fun. There also seems to have been a celebration of the victory of the Angel of Rain against the Demon of Drought. . This day had a lot of singing and dancing involved with it.

One of the popular traditions of Sizdah Bedar is the knotting of blades of sprouts by the young unmarried girls in the hope to marry soon and expressing their wish and hope for good fortune in life and love. Modern day women tend to use blades of grass instead. Sprouts were a favourite of the Angel of Rain who is said to also look fondly on the areas of the heart.

The people would also at the end of their picnic throw the Sabzeh away. The Sabzeh is meant to hold all the sickness, pain and ill fate of the family for the coming year. Some books say this was also used as a gift of food to the departing Demons. It would be great if the departing Demons ate your illness and bad luck for the year wouldn’t it? Of course the people then spent the rest of that night and the whole of the next day cleaning and cleansing their homes. It still sounds like a pretty good trade for good luck and good health.

I found no evidence of tricks being played by these ancient peoples and in fact it would seem to be detrimental to them as they were in fact trying to keep the Demons away from them. If you’re asking why at this point it is because Demons known in ancient times as Daemon meant a being more powerful than a man and less powerful than a God. These beings had free will and could choose to help or harm as they saw fit. Daemons could also be tricksters and some of their tricks were the cause of illness, or death in people, animals or the crops. Therefore playing tricks on this day would in fact draw Daemons to the trickster allowing a Daemon to attach itself to the person for the year. Although modern books have stated that tricks are played on this day. I can only assume that the meaning of this celebration has therefore changed somewhat over the centuries.


A jester crowns the new year as a young woman, and ushers out the old year, an old woman. This picture was made for the end of 1866 and the start of 1867
A jester crowns the new year as a young woman, and ushers out the old year, an old woman. This picture was made for the end of 1866 and the start of 1867

The Emperor Constantine In the Roman Empire

So the next well liked and widely believed Origin of April Fool’s day is that it started at some time during the Roman Empire when a court Jester boasted to Emperor Constantine that

“The Fools and Jesters of the court could Rule the Kingdom better than the Emperor”.

It is said that the Emperor decided that he would like to find out if a Fool or Jester could in fact rule his kingdom and therefore he named the Jester Kugel who was in fact the Jester who had made this statement to actually Rule for the day. The Jester was said to have ruled on April 1st. Upon being given the kingdom for the day Kugel made an immediate proclamation that only the absurd was allowed to be in the Kingdom on this day. April Fool’s day was celebrated with tricks from this day forth.

It is important to note that in ancient history Fools and Jesters were in fact well learned people whose thoughts were listened to very closely by those in power. Due to the amount of travelling around neighbouring kingdoms, they learned many different things about many of the courtiers of the lands which they then used to create the many stories they told. They usually did this by acting them out for the court after meal times. Many times they would also be told of certain situations before their show and would play out what could happen if the person chose unwisely. This would both entertain the court and give thought to whomsoever truly needed it.

I wish we had Fools and Jesters in our governments.

Sounds good so far right?

So this theory was given in 1983 by Professor Boskin of the Boston University to a reporter of the Associated Press. It then spread like wildfire through most of the countries newspapers. This is starting to sound more and more like it is factual right?

Professor Boskin was actually playing a well thought out prank. He admitted a few weeks later that his story was just a joke and the Boston University issued a statement apologizing for the prank. Many but not all newspapers that had run the story also published corrections. So this is definitely not the way April Fool’s day started though it was a rather great April Fool’s day prank.

So if you hear one of your friends tell everyone at a party that April fool’s day was created in Roman times listen quietly to their April Fool’s ranting’s and watch the faces of those around you because it is always good to time your factual reply after all the fools have been drawn into the April Fool’s web.

If you wish to learn how April Fool's Day was created click here


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    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Thanks for dropping by larakern ... I do hope that everyone realises that this hub and therefore these beliefs are about the incorrect beliefs of the origin of April fools day. The hub on the true origins of April 1st are on this page ...

    • larakern profile image

      larakern 6 years ago from Georgia

      I never wondered how April Fool's Day came to be. Now that I do know, I find it's origins very interesting. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      thank you both for the wonderful comments

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..yes it's true - Hyphenbird said it all - this is a very enlightening hub subject and you have really done your homework here not to mention put together a world class hub - and just impress/educate the heck out of the epi-man ....

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      How cool to know this. Not surprising that the holiday began in such a manner. I beleive most of us don't realize we are celebrating ancient practices. Thanks for the read. It is very interesting.