April Fools Day in history

Plastic wrap over the toilet bowl first thing in the morning…switching the salt with sugar…putting food coloring in the milk…whatever the case may be, most people have pulled a prank or have been the victim of one on April Fools day during sometime in their lives. Where did the annual tradition meant to generate a laugh come from?

While its origins are obscure, there are some interesting explanations as to why we pull tricks on the people in our lives on the first of this month.

In 16th century the New Year was celebrated on April 1 but in 1582, under the reign of Charles IX, the Gregorian calendar was introduced and New Year’s Day was to be celebrated on January 1st. Many people were not aware of the change or didn’t wish to accept it, so those who continued to celebrate the New Year on the first of April were called “fools” by the rest of the public. These people were frequently made the butt of pranks and practical jokes and were also called “poisson d’avril” which means “April fish” because young fish are naïve and caught easily. Attaching a paper fish on the back of someone’s shirt was a common prank that is still highly popular in France, and certain places in Canada, to this day.

The idea of pulling pranks on April 1st eventually caught on in England and Scotland in the 18th century and was brought to American colonies shortly thereafter and now, each country celebrates April Fools in different ways.

In England, jokes are played only in the morning because playing a prank on someone in the afternoon is considered bad luck. Jokesters are called “gobs”, and the victims of the jokes are called “noodles”. In Scotland, April Fools day is 48 hours long with the second day known as Taily Day which is dedicated to jokes that involve one’s derriere. The origins of the popular “kick me” sign can be traced back to this. The butt of a joke (no pun intended) in this region is known as the “April Gowk” which is another name for the cuckoo bird. In Portugal, this day is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday prior to lent and many people throw flour at one another while in Canada and the U.S.A. April Fools Day in the United States is usually a day of trickery, pranks and outrageous stunts with the media often becoming involved by running bogus news stories or promoting false products…

However you so chose to celebrate, enjoy the day and have fun.