The Origins of April Fools' Day

Samara Scott on Mar 27, 2024 8:41:42 AM


Although not recognized as an official holiday, April Fools Day is celebrated internationally. For centuries, many people have traditionally pulled practical jokes to celebrate. But where did this strange holiday originate?

The Gregorian Calendar replaces the Julian Calendar

Around 1582, France had newly switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. But due to the news spreading slowly, people would end up celebrating the new year In the last week of March to around April 1st. Others would place paper fish (poisson d'avril) on their backs or even send them on fool's errands to search for things that did not exist.

Poisson D'Avril comes from a 1508 poem written by Eloy d'Amerval. Although not meaning 'April fish' (translating to April Fool), the term was associated with fish becoming more abundant during the spring. Due to the large number of these fish, they were easier to catch and became associated with being gullible or foolish.

The Roman Festival Hilaria

The Festival of Hilaria took place at the end of March, celebrated by followers of the cult of Cybele. During this festival, citizens would dress up as their fellow townsfolk and playfully poke fun at one another.



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