Good morning all you April Fools and Foolettes out there. Watch yourselves today; ’tis the day of mischief, so check your backs often, thoroughly inspect your vehicle, watch your step, and definitely watch where you sit!
Springtime is the season of foolishness and fun and has been since ancient times. Even mother nature has a tendency to fool people when it comes to unpredictable spring weather. Since winter had just ended, people were in jovial moods as they were finally out of their homes in which they had been cooped all winter. Ancient Romans during this time celebrated the festival of Hilaria, in which they wore amusing costumes. Other spring festivals occurred throughout Europe and were celebrated in a variety of fun ways.
April 1st as we know it today became the prankster’s favorite observance from 1583 onward. That year, in France, the Council of Trent decided that the French calendar would no longer be the Julius calendar, which started the new year on the 1st day of spring and the celebration for the new year was on April 1st, unlike the Gregorian calendar which celebrated New Year on January 1st, as we know it.
1952 was the last year of the Julius Calendar, and by then, most everybody knew this. Those who didn’t accept the switch or didn’t know about it celebrated the 1583 new year on April 1st, and became the butt of jokes in French society. Youngsters pinned paper fish to their backs as they were walking by and they were ridiculed, called Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish” which ‘Fish’ was a slang term that meant ‘fool’, as a fish was considered naive, gullible, and stupid because of how easily it was caught.
April Fool’s Day became popularized in Western Europe at the start of the 18th century. Jokers young and old pulled pranks on their unsuspecting victims and especially targeted rear-ends, pinning things like tails and ‘kick me’ signs on them. In Scotland, this was called ‘Tailie Day’ and Tailie Day was the second day of the two day April Fool’s celebration. The first day of the April Fool’s tradition in Scotland was called ‘Hunting the Gowk’. ‘Gowk’ meant cuckoo bird, and any unfortunate individual who was a ‘Gowk’ was sent on a foolish or phony errand as a prank.
Today, April 1st is still celebrated and even businesses and media get in on the pranking, creating elaborate hoaxes and fake news stories that have actually fooled people.