April Fools!

The History Behind One of the Funniest Days of the Year

April Fool’s Day also sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year.

Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it comes from the adoption of a new calendar.

Ancient cultures, including those of the Roman and Hindus, celebrate New Year’s Day on or around April 1.

It closely follows the “Vernal Equinox” or March 2oth/March 21st. In the Medievel times, much of Europe celebrated March 25th, the feast of Annunciation.This was celebrating their New Year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory x111 ordered a new calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year France adopted the revised calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1.   According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date or did not learn about it and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually the practice spread throughout Europe.

There are at least two problems with this explanation. The first is that it doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fool’s Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752. But April Fool’s Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct evidence for this explanation, only theories, and they appear to have been made more recently.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fool’s Day was provided by a man Joseph Boskin. He was a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that “the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine amused allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an ‘edict’ calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.”

“In a way, It was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor,” explained Boskin.

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch; Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fool’s joke themselves.