- Alex Park
How the Funniest Day of the Year Came to Be
April Fool’s Day is a holiday celebrated on the first day of April by many cultures. Although the exact origins of the holiday are unknown, some historians estimate that it dates back to 1582, when France changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian calendar, like the Hindu calendar, the year began at around April 1st with the spring equinox. However, people who were not informed yet of the change in calendars and that the new year began on January 1st continued to celebrate the new year at the end of March. As a result, these people were given the title of “April fools” and became the subject of jokes and hoaxes. Some pranks that were done on them included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril,” or April fish, which symbolizes a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person. This day has also been tied to Hilaria, a festival celebrated in ancient Rome, which occurs at the end of March. It is celebrated by the followers of Cybele, where people dress up in disguises and mock fellow citizens, and this was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of isis, Osiris, and Seth.
Despite having a mysterious origin, April Fool’s Day is a popular and widely celebrated holiday, where people all over the world can fool audiences from pranks to fictional claims. News stations and other sources of media have partaken in these activities, such as the BBC reporting in 1957 that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees and the National Public Radio in 1992 stating that former president Richard Nixon was running for president again, which turned out to be an actor, fooling the entire country. Even popular food chains have done their own pranks, such as in 1996 where Taco Bell announced that they had agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell and renaming it to the “Taco Liberty Bell” and in 1998, where Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” which fooled many customers who tried to order it. Even Google hosts April Fool’s Day pranks including a “telepathic search” and being able to play Pac Man on Google Maps.
April Fool’s Day, although not as significant as Christmas or New Years, is a surprisingly popular and important day for many people around the world. While the traditions and meanings of this day are more casual and lighthearted, it is still a day that people can enjoy and remember.