April Fool's Day

Looking foolish does the spirit good. -- John Updike

April Fool's Day or All Fool's Day is a holiday, known for practical joking and celebrated on the first of April. The English gave April Fool's Day its first widespread celebration during the 18th century.

Unlike most holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is of uncertain origin. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring. Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1564, the date was observed as New Year's Day by cultures as varied as the Roman and the Hindu. The holiday may be related to the festival of the vernal equinox, which occurs on the 21st of March.

The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated on the 1st of January.

In France, however, many people either refused to accept the new calendar, or did not learn about it for several years, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on the 1st of April.Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands", trying to trick them into believing something false or they were made the butt of other practical jokes.

This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The French came to call the 1st of April Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children would sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered. In 1752, Great Britain finally changed over to the Gregorian calendar, and April Fool's Day began to be celebrated in England and in the American colonies. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international event, with different nationalities specialising in their own types of humour at the expense of others.

Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees.

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom. -- Elizabeth Gaskell

Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. -- Mark Twain

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. -- Mark Twain