The History of April Fools’ Day

Learn the History of the Most Hilarious Holiday in the World!

Linnea Sundquist, Sandscript Author

April Fools day is one of the most hilarious holidays that the world celebrates to this day. When most people think of April Fools day they think of funny jokes or pranks that you can pull on your friends or family but not everyone knows that April Fools’ Day actually dates back all the way to 1582. 

During 1582, France switched their calendar from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar which was made by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, April 1st is the start of a new year and many people often forget that the new year started on January 1st not on April 1st. But they continued to celebrate the new year through the last week of March until the first of April, and this holiday eventually became the butt of jokes, pranks and any other practical jokes. These hoaxes became known as “April Fools’ ”.

One of the most practical jokes that was commonly pulled was putting a paper fish on someone’s back and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” or “April fish”. This was to say a person was gullible or an “easily caught fish”.

Historians also link April Fools’ Day all the way back to Ancient Rome and the Vernal Equinox. Ancient Rome hosted a festival called Hilaria which was celebrated at the end of March every year. The festival was celebrated by a group of people of Cybele and people would dress up in disguises or costumes and mock their fellow citizens. During the Vernal Equinox, there was a myth that Mother Nature would send unpredicting weather as a way of fooling her people on Earth. 

Eventually, April Fools’ Day spread through Britain in the 18th Century in Scotland and became a two day event. The jokes consisted mainly of sending people on false errands with messages that said stuff like, “Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile!” Gowk means fool or cuckoo. The person who originally got this note would pass it on and on so the joke never ends. This ended up starting a new holiday called Tailie Day where people would stick “kick me” signs on people’s backs. 

In present day many people across the globe and there have been countless pranks pulled through the media on April 1st. One of the most iconic pranks that was held on BBC in 1965. They announced they were starting a trial on smell-o-vision where audience members could smell through the television with their regularly scheduled programming TV shows and programs. 

Many other pranks have been documented throughout the years and have always put great smiles on its viewers. April Fools’ Day is one of the most hilarious and fun holidays during the year so if you plan to pull a prank on a friend or family member make sure it’s safe and responsible. The Sandscript staff wishes everyone a happy April’s Fools’ Day!