April Fool’s carries on jokes from long ago

April Fool’s Day may have started thanks to a pope changing the calendar, leaving some people to celebrate the new year on the wrong day

April Fool’s Day is believed to have got its start thanks to a pope changing his self-named calendar, leaving some people to celebrate the new year on the wrong day and being called fools.

Seriously.

The most common theory about the earliest April Fools’ celebrations goes like this: In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing a new standard calendar for Christian Europe that would take his name and centuries later become the international standard in the 21st century.

Prior to the 15th century, Europe’s nations and city states operated using the Julian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar moved the date of the new year from April 1 to January 1, among other changes.

Catholic monarchies were naturally its earliest adopters, though Protestant nations later followed suit.

Given the nature of the reform, both in terms of communicating such a fundamental change to a large population and dealing with critics of the new calendar, some Europeans continued to celebrate the new year between March 25 and April 1.

April fools were those who still celebrated the holiday in the spring, and were the subject of pranks and ridicule by those who observed the new year months ago.

Jokes played on them included having paper fish placed on their backs and being called poisson d’avril, or April Fish, which was said to refer to a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

It’s not unreasonable to suppose that the calendrical changes of the 16th and 17th centuries served more as an excuse to codify a general spirit of mirth already associated with the season than as the sole inspiration for a pranksters’ holiday.

In the 18th century in Scotland, April Fool’s Day became a two-day event, with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk meaning cuckoo bird, a symbol for a fool) and followed by Tailie Day, in which fake tails or “kick me” signs were pinned on people’s backs.

That’s just one theory for the origin of the holiday, however.

HowStuffWorks.com says that other occasions resembling April Fools’ Day preceded the more contemporary incarnation by centuries.

Ancient Romans held a festival known as Hilaria. The occasion was used to celebrate the resurrection of the god Attis.

Hilaria was celebrated in Rome near the end of March where people dressed up in disguises.

Hilaria, of course, resembles the word hilarity in English.

The modern equivalent of Hilaria is called Roman Laughing Day.

Other non-Western cultures have their own traditions similar to April Fools’ Day as well.

In India, Holi, a colorful Hindi festival that frequently entices non-Hindi participants to join in, often is celebrated by people playing jokes and throwing colorful dyes on each other.

Persian culture also has a holiday with a similar theme, known as Sizdahbedar.

On this day, which typically coincides with April Fools’ Day itself, Iranians play pranks on one another.

The Jewish festival of Purim has a long history, as well.

Coinciding with the advent of spring, it’s celebrated annually with costume-wearing, carnivals, and pranks.

In the UK and countries to whom Brits have passed on their way of celebrating April Fool’s Day, the japes traditionally cease at midday.

According to tradition, if you prank someone after 12 p.m., then you become the fool.

Or April Fool’s could be tied to the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature can fool us with changing, unpredictable weather, which seems to be happening already in many places in Canada.

With files from history.com, discovery.com, urbanlegends.com

Just Posted

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

NARA sends off rescues to cat cafe in Vancouver

Several cats and kittens from the region are now up for adoption at Catoro Cafe

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

Coast Mountain College announces interim president

Ken Burt, current president and CEO, will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Terrace River Kings schedule released

Two new teams join CIHL in upcoming season

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Most Read