The Origin of April Fools: Why the Joke’s On Us

AprilFools_LaurenJohnsonIf you find yourself wondering about the origins of April Fools’ Day, you are not alone.

“I have no clue how the tradition began,” says junior Natasha Bailey. “I’m sure someone was probably bored and thought it would be a great holiday to start.”

Like Bailey, the rest of the world is unsure, too.

The most popular April Fools’ Day theory to date involves the French calendar change that took place in the 1500s. The New Year would begin in January to coincide with the Roman calendar rather than late March or early April. However, word of this change traveled slowly, and many people residing in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year in early spring. As the story goes, those mistaken became known as “April fools.”

While some agree with this theory, other experts do not. It is reported that France legally celebrated the beginning of the year on Easter day, disassociating New Year’s from April first altogether. The French did actually celebrate the New Year on January first, though the legal start to the year was historically considered to take place on the Easter holiday.

Other experts believe April Fools’ Day originated from ancient European spring renewal festivals, where pranks, hoaxes and masquerading were common.

Despite the lack of clarity, it is undeniable that the tradition continues on.

For Bailey, April Fools’ Day is entertaining.

“You get to think of pranks to play on your friends and family…but for some reason mine always end up going south,” Bailey says. “Either my pranks suck or my friends are too smart to be fooled.”

Photo by Lauren Johnson


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