No one is quite sure where this prank filled holiday began, but there are a few interesting theories out there!
Some believe April Fools’ Day had its origin in France, where the switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 caused some confusion. The Julian Calendar, which had been used previously, began the new year with the spring equinox. Since there was no internet in 1582 news travelled much slower, and those who did not realize the calendar had been updated continued to celebrate the new year at the beginning of spring. These people were sometimes called “April fools” or “poisson d’avril” (April fish).
Other historians have linked April Fools’ Day to the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, which was celebrated at the end of March. The festival involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens. It was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth.
In the Netherlands, the April Fools origin is often attributed to the Dutch victory in 1572 at Brielle, where the Spanish Duke Álvarez de Toledo was defeated. Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril is a Dutch proverb, which can be translated as: “On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses.” In this case, “bril” (“glasses” in Dutch) serves as a homonym for Brielle.
Whatever the true origin, people across Europe and North America have been enjoying playing clever pranks on one another every April 1st for many years, and hopefully for many years to come!
Many Spanish speaking countries also have a similar holiday -“Día de los Santos Inocentes” (Holy Innocents Day), but it is celebrated in late December or early January.
What’s your favorite April Fools’ Day prank? Join us for a special Happy Hour today from 2-4 PM ET, and discuss the funniest things you’ve done or seen in the chat!