What is known about April Fools’ Day is this: It falls every year on April 1. It is officially a day to play pranks. What is not known about the day is: How it came into being; meaning thereby that there are several tales about the origin of the day, and yet we don’t know which of those (if any) are true.
Here are some of the probable origins of the history of April Fools’ Day.
- Hilaria, a Greco-Roman festival celebrated every year on March 25, was known for its parades, jokes and masquerades. It was thought of as the beginning of the year of the Julian calendar. The term ‘hilaria’ reminds one of the word ‘hilarity’ in the English language, which means boisterous merriment or extreme amusement.
- Back in the year 1582, France decided to move from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. In the former, April 1 was New Year’s Day while in the latter, it was January 1. Those folks who didn’t realize this change soon enough continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1 and became the butt of all jokes.
- Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales in 1392. In the story, a fox tricks a rooster into becoming his meal, but then the rooster in turn tricks him back into letting him go. ‘Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two’ were the opening words of the story, which was considered to be a joke because there was no March 32, and hence misunderstood to mean April 1.
And hence, April Fools’ Day came into being.