The Mystery of April Fools' Day

April Fool’s Day has a bit of a murky, but thankfully not terrible, history. The tradition of fooling people on the first of April has been around for centuries. There is evidence of such. However, no one can say for sure how or when the tradition began.

There are several theories as to how the idea of fooling people on this specific day came about. The two most talked about theories have to do with the Julian and Gregorian calendars and ancient Roman festivals, such as the Hilaria Festival.

First, let’s dive into the calendar theory.

When Julius Caesar was the ruler of Rome he decided to improve upon the Roman calendar that was used at the time. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, he called this reformation of the Roman calendar the Julian calendar.

Years later, the calendar was changed yet again. The calendar change was decided by the French Council of Trent in 1563. This new calendar was called the Gregorian calendar. This is the calendar we use today.

The change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar meant the month and day that once marked the new year had changed.

According to History.com, “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.”

Now, let’s dive into the festival theory.

There isn’t as much to this theory as the calendar one. It is as simple as the fact there once was a festival called Hilaria that was widely celebrated in ancient Rome. The festival was held at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. Historians believe there is a link to this festival and the holiday we now call April Fool’s Day.

We may not know exactly how, when, or where the tradition started but that certainly doesn’t take away from the fun of the pranks and teasing that ensues.

Images Courtesy of Unsplash.