April Fools’ Day: The history of foolishness
Sunday is April Fools’ Day, a widely celebrated holiday that encourages people to pull pranks on their family, friends and co-workers, however, most people are not familiar with the origin of this silly tradition.
Some claim the earliest recorded association to the holiday, and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392. However, most experts credit Pope Gregory XIII, who in the 1500s gave the world the Gregorian calendar.
In 1562, the Gregorian calendar moved the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1. Although the New Year changed it took a while for the word to spread and some town’s people who were unaware of the change continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1, making them the April Fools because they were tricked by those in the know.
Over the years, this whimsical holiday made its way to the USA where it became a national obsession, sparking elaborate and sometimes dangerous pranks.
In countries like Canada, the U.K., South Africa, New Zealand and Australia tradition dictates that tricksters are allowed to prank people before noon. Any foolishness done after 12 and the trickster is taunted and called an “April Fool.”
Other countries like Italy, Japan, France, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Ireland and the U.S. celebrate April Fools’ all day long.