I am aware that April first was Easter Sunday this year and this entry is being written for publication a couple days after the fact but I figure that is fine because its still close to the actual date.
I have bad memories of April first so I do not like to celebrate it but have you wondered how it got the reputation for being a day of tricks? I did.
No one knows for certain when the tradition of playing tricks on people or fooling them came into our culture but here is a reference in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to a foolish hero whose story takes place on March 32nd which could be April 1st. The pranks are thought to have started back in 1582, when the French changed their calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian one.
The Julian calendar celebrated the new year at the end of March so the new year began in April. The Gregorian calendar changed the new year to the beginning of January. It is believed that many people did not get word of the change, so they continued celebrating according to the older calendar and were thought to be gullible so they had tricks played on them but no one is sure.
What is known is that English pranksters began playing tricks
on each other back in 1700 but anything prior to that is just a guess. After 1700, the pranks on April first began to spread across England, to
Scotland where it became a two day celebration. On the first day,
people were sent on fools errands while on the second day, tricks were
played on their rears such as pinning a "kick me" sign.
Over the years it has taken root and has expanded to the point that sometimes the media gets involved and produced hoaxes over the years such as in 1957 when the BBC produced an article on the bumper crop of spaghetti produced by Swiss farmers complete with video. Many people called the BBC looking for information on where to get these "Noodle" trees so they could plant their own. Or in 1986 when Taco Bell announced it had purchased the Liberty Bell and planned to rename it "The Taco Liberty Bell."
Other cultures have celebrations at around the same time such as the Hindi holiday Holi and the Jewish Purim, only Europe and North America seem to celebrate the prank centered day. I mentioned earlier that I do not celebrate April Fools day. When I was in middle school I had a friend die on March 31st in a diving accident. She got caught under a ledge, couldn't get out, and ran out of air. She broke the number one rule by diving alone. We heard on April first so everyone thought it was a joke but eventually we realized it was not.
I hope everyone had a great April first. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.