This past weekend my niece asked me to help brainstorm April Fools’ pranks she could pull on her younger twin siblings. “They got me last year, so I have to come up with something clever!”
What is the history behind April Fools’ Day? Where did all of these shenanigans start and why? Good question. No one seems to readily know off-hand why we celebrate April Fools’ Day by trying to trick or prank our friends and family, but many of us like to get in on the fun. Large companies such as Google have even been known to trick the public with large-scale April Fools’ Day hoaxes. YouTube got in on the fun last year by announcing it was closing down for a decade to take time to carefully judge which clip submitted would be awarded “Best Video on the Internet.” And way back in 1957, BBC flummoxed listeners when it reported that Swiss farmers were struggling with an unexpectedly large spaghetti crop. It seems the corporate world needs to loosen the old necktie and have a good laugh every now and again as well, eh?
So while you’re Crazy Gluing your uncle’s favorite coffee mug to the counter or offering pepper flavored chewing gum to your school chum, allow me to provide some explanation for the day dedicated to foolish antics.
I’m just fooling. I can’t offer much of an explanation. Unfortunately, the holiday’s origins are unknown and remain shrouded in mystery. Appropriate, wouldn’t you say, for a holiday that endeavors to trick people? Many believe that France is most likely the culprit behind April Fools’ Day. In the 1500s, the French powers that be decided it was high time to adjust the calendar to coincide with the Roman calendar, resulting in a shift of the New Year to January instead of late March or early April. Legend has it that this news traveled slowly, what with the lack of TV, internet, and social media, you see. Therefore, those living in rural areas didn’t receive this news in a timely manner. The story goes that these poor unconnected souls became the “April fools” of their day.
Some believe this story to be complete rubbish and instead subscribe to the theory that April Fools’ Day traces its origin back to European spring festivals which celebrated renewal. Oftentimes during these spring fetes, merrymakers disguised themselves with masks and costumes, and poured into the town square to watch or to participate in marches and processions.
Some fabulous fictional yarns have been spun explaining the advent of the holiday. While these stories are untrue, as you can imagine, many have been duped into believing them.
Regardless of where it all started, the fun continues and seems to grow to larger audiences each and every year. Have a frolicking good time this April Fools’ day, but beware! Pranks are aplenty!