Aprils Fools Day: The Origin

The start as well as some extremes during this day of duplicity

April Fool’s Day, sometimes referred to as All Fool’s Day, is a day full of mischievous tricks and bothersome pranks. Where, when, and how did this borderline national holiday begin? The exact beginnings are unknown, but historians have made a rough estimate that it began around 1582 when France went from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. With the Julian calendar, April 1st was around when the new year began. Due to this sudden calendar change, people were uninformed of this change and many refused to accept it. So, people kept on celebrating new years around the last week of March to April 1st. These people were called “April Fools”, and they were ridiculed with countless pranks during the first week of April. Such jokes included putting paper fish on their backs and being called a “poisson d’avril”, meaning April fish which refers to a young, easily caught fish or a gullible person.

. A “poisson d’avril” put onto someone’s back, showing that it is still apart of French culture. Photo credit: Sympatico

Another origin can be linked to the Roman holiday, Hilaria, meaning joyful in Latin. Hilaria was celebrated at the end of March by followers of the cult of Cybele in ancient Rome. People would dress up in costumes, mocking fellow citizens, magistrates, and was inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Seth, and Osiris.

A painting of the origin story behind the origin story of Hilaria. Photo credit: Creating History.com

During the 18th century, April Fool’s Day became a huge part of life in Britain and Scotland. The people of Scotland would celebrate April Fool’s Day for two days in a row, being sent on the stupidest and phoniest errands, called “hunting a gawk” which is another term for cuckoo bird which is a symbol of foolishness. Tailie Day would also happen. During that day, people would pin tails and put notes such as “Kick me!” on people's derrieres.

In modern society, people will do things such as freezing their family’s cereal, egging people’s houses, switching out the sugar and salt, sending people on false errands, making up jump scares, and many more. Google, one year, put Pac-Man on Google Maps.

Posters such as this were posted all over social media in order to fool people that Taco Bell really did purchase the Liberty Bell. Photo credit: First We Feast

Burger King made up something called the “Left-Handed Whopper” in 1998 and had multiple customers asking for this imaginary sandwich. In 1996, the Taco Bell company released a rumor that they purchased the Philadelphia Liberty Bell and would be renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell, creating lots of jokes and cruel humor. News stations will make up fake news, such as the deaths of celebrities and false allegations, such as pregnancy announcements and marriage or break up incidents.

Regardless of the confusing origins, April Fool’s Day is a very special holiday that many look forward to. It is a day of fun that is enjoyed by many. With COVID this year, it will be interesting to see how April Fool’s Day will change.

Story by: Joey Jung, '23