No wonder we all stick by our own honest opinions, given the age-long tradition of ‘truth beholds justice’. Our guardians work their sweats off only to make us reveal our secret party plans. And then, there is this one day that accepts all lies and hoaxes. April Fools’ Day is now a tradition to the world. This day, celebrated for several centuries, justifiably involves playing hoaxes or pranks on others. However, the mystery of its origin remains a secret to date.
Even though the past origins of this day remain undercover, the day is known to have successfully seized all attention given the pranks of the media and major brands, thus ensuring a long life for this one day where you are ‘praised to prank’. Let us take a look at some of the many origin theories that did not endure attainment for a long time.
Origin theories to believe in the Fools’ Day
Specific historians venture that the day dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. It was so that the year, according to the Julian calendar, began with the spring equinox around the 1st of April.
It was for the people who were slow to be on the receiving end of this news or failed to spot that the commencement of the year had shifted to the 1st of January from the last week of March through 1st April, that the ideation and term ‘April Fools’ was coined.
These pranks comprised of having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish, here meaning a gullible person. These became the butt of the pranks and hoaxes that forever remained to become a trend of its own.
Yet another speculation was about the festival of Hilaria celebrated in Ancient Rome. Hilaria, meaning joyful, was celebrated at the end of March by the followers of the cult of Cybele. Some historians link the celebration to this day which involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens. This was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth.
The initiation of the April Fools’ Day tradition
Though it has not been possible for many historians to agree on an accurate date of the commencement of the April Fools’ Day celebration given its many origin theories, the tradition of this day spread out throughout Britain in the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition was seen to become a two-day event that started with the past-privileged ‘hunting the gowk’ wherein people were sent on sham errands. This was followed by the Tailie Day which involved pranks being played on people’s derrieres.
To settle with an origin theory is a difficult task to undertake, but it is straight-up that history has many versions of its own. What, however, matters that the day is celebrated worldwide with major brands and industries going par lenghts with the April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Media stations and websites have partaken in the April Fools’ Day tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. Below are some examples of the same-
In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees.
In 1992, National Public Radio ran a spot with former President Richard Nixon saying he was running for president again; only it was an actor playing Nixon. The segment was an April Fools’ Day hoax that wedged the country by surprise.
In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, conned people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and envisioned renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.
In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.
Though the history remains a teensy bit unclear, the fact that the world awaits April 1 only so that people can prank one other and take the fun of it, cannot be overlooked. It won’t be incorrect to call it an unofficial holiday from all the sincere norms of honesty and for once, take a funny chance to make someone’s beat go up high.
History’s Greatest April Fools Jokes- National Geographic
Some of the greatest April Fools’ pranks of all time- CNN.
A Brief, Totally Sincere History of April Fools’ Day- Washington Post
15 Best April Fools’ Day Hoaxes- CBS