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April Fool's Day
April 1

By Sarah Lane
Apr 1, 2004, 16:25 PST

April Fools Day- April 1st

April Fool’s Day - April 1st


No one can agree on the exact origin of ‘April Fool’s Day.’  It’s probably a prank itself that the day of practical jokes has survived this long.  The date April 1st may have been chosen in relation to the Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring.  This is the time of year where the weather becomes very unpredictable and could be as warm as summer one minute, or cold and rainy the next. 


There are similar celebrations in Rome and India during this time of year.  In Rome, the Festival of Hilaria celebrates the resurrection of the god Attis.  It falls on March 25th and today it is called ‘Roman Laughing Day.’  Attis was a historical figure that led a life similar to Jesus, and was said to have died for other’s sins.  Hilaria is celebrated on March 25th, nine months before the birthday of Attis on December 25th.  In India, the Huli Festival celebrates the arrival of spring.  It falls on March 31st and people play jokes and smear colors on each other.


Most people believe that the origin of April Fools originated in France.  Before the use of the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s celebrations were on April 1st.  New Year’s Day was changed to January 1st and those who still celebrated it on April 1st were called April fools. French peasants would drop in on neighbors on this day and dupe them into thinking that it was a New Year’s call.  From this came the idea of testing the limitations of family and friends through practical jokes.  If you were the victim of a joke in France you were called a ‘poisson d’avril,’ or April Fish because a young naive fish is easily caught.  It was common practice to hook a cardboard fish on the back of someone as a joke.  The symbol of a fish could have been used because it represents the zodiac sign of Pisces. 


In England jokes were played only in the morning.  Fools were called ‘gobs’ or ‘gobby’ and the victim of a joke was called a ‘noodle.’  In Scotland you were called an April ‘Gowk’, another name for cuckoo bird.   In Portugal, April Fools falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent, and many people throw flour at their friends.  In today’s day and age, jokes are supposed to end at noon.  Any jokes pulled after that, are said to bring the person playing them bad luck.  It is also bad luck if you don’t respond to a joke played on you with good humor.  Just remember this is a day for laughter, whether it’s towards yourself or someone else.


Additional Learning Links for April Fool’s Day


Urban Legends Reference 

Click on ‘Holidays’ at the end of this page and you’ll find all sorts of interesting facts you never knew.  Read theories about how this holiday came about and learn about some of the greatest hoaxes ever.

Source:              Snopes, Inc.

Reading Level:   Moderate


How Stuff Works

Someone asked these guys how April Fools came about and, wouldn’t you know it, they have some cool facts.  Find out why people play pranks on each other and how this strange day came about.

Source:              How Stuff Works, Inc.

Reading Level:   Hard


Museum of Hoaxes

What exactly is a hoax? See what the top ten April Fool’s jokes of all time are.  Read about hoaxes from pre-1700 all the way to 2001.

Source:              Alex Boese

Reading Level:   Moderate

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