Even the gods love jokes. ~Plato: Poisson d’AvrilPosted: April 1, 2014
April Fool’s Day sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.
Ancient Cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1. In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar, the Gregorian 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 reformed 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 problems with this explanation: 1.) This doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fools’ Day to other European countries. The Gregorian Calendar was not adopted by England until 1752 and April Fools’ Day was already well established. 2.) We have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.
Either way the French call April 1 Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.