A Brief History of April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day is an annual celebration where pranksters and jokesters alike get to go all out and make people laugh. Its origins are difficult to decipher, and many historians debate where this tradition came from. However, after completing vigorous research and diving deep into the sources, the history of April Fool’s Day has finally been discovered.

The first evidence of April Fool’s Day is found in mythology, particularly that of the way-too-many gods Egyptians. You know what the best kind of prank is? Murder and dismemberment, obviously: like when Set, the god of chaos, decided to chop his brother into pieces, feed his dick to crocodiles, and made him the first mummy. It was so much fun that Osiris’ wife, Isis, and her sister, Nepthys, went on this huge body-part scavenger hunt to bring him back to life.

But, sometimes pranks go wrong, and with Osiris’ peen in the belly of a croc, go wrong it did indeed. It worked out though because, on this ancient episode of Jackass, Isis simply conjured him up a ghost penis to keep that babymaker running. The date is unknown, but we assume this all happened in the Springtime, during inundation. And since the Egyptians so revered this grand betrayal — I mean prank — so began the tradition. 

Cleopatra VII was well known for her beauty, intelligence and sick leadership skills, but did you know she was also a jokester? In between political negotiations and empire building, she liked to play many tricks on those around her. Whether it was wet willies or staging fake coups, Cleopatra especially liked to joke with her military general Sektetitties — or Remasses. 

Maybe this is why, when she told Julius Caesar that she was pregnant on Apr. 1, 52 AD, he didn’t believe her and thought it was a joke. Nine months later, Caesar realized it indeed was not a joke, and Caesarion was born in 47 BC. This is why April Fool’s Day is associated with Apr. 1: Caesar made it a feast day throughout the Roman Empire to celebrate his son’s birthday. 

In Roman society, the Augustus (or Caesar) was considered a god (don’t all men think they are anyway?). This is why evidence of April Fool’s Day is seen also in Roman mythology. The god Momus — thought to be Julius Caesar's love child with Diana (Caesar was a ladies’ man) — was notoriously funny. Momus, according to legend, was created to bring laughter into the world. However, he soon turned deviant and became a trickster, playing pranks on Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Apr. 1 then became associated with Momus throughout the Roman Empire, from the provinces of Assyria to Hispania. 

In the Early Medieval Period (not the medieval times), Roman legions brought over the tradition of April Fool’s Day to the province of Britannia, which includes England, a part of Great Britain. This was … dangerous, to say the least, considering how war-like the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon tribes they tried to displace were. Never trust a man with an axe on Apr. 1, ladies and gents, because you might just find yourself missing an ear. Then, with William the Conqueror’s conquest of England in 1066, the tradition spread further and became more firmly entrenched in both this real established England and homeboy Will’s home turf of Normandy.

The world is wide, and the Middle Ages were global, so a more comprehensive international history of April Fool’s is beyond the scope of this very scholarly paper. We shall henceforth be focusing on England as the centre of history and the world — just as they used to think they were. Kings and Queens came and went, but what never left is their semi-sadistic infatuation with pranking their peers. 

One example of this is King Henry VIII. He was a notorious prankster. He loved to dress up in disguise and play tricks on his courtiers. Meeting his witty match in Anne Boleyn, she decided to play an April Fool’s Day prank on him. She thought it would be funny to roleplay as a fairy enchantress in the bedroom, and had her brother help her set up. When Henry walked in and saw her brother adorning her with a witch’s hat, he promptly called her an incestuous witch and cut her head off. Some men just can't take a joke. 

Because of this incident, it only makes sense that Queen Elizabeth I outlawed April Fool’s Day when she came to power in 1558, not wanting to continue a tradition that resulted in the unfortunate loss of her mother's head. None of England followed this law though, as the prankster traditions were too near to the peasants’ hearts. When James I became king, he reinstated the holiday because of how prevalent pranking still was and how many underground April Fool’s societies there were. 

As the British Empire began to expand and grow in the fifteenth-century, British traditions and ideals also gained popularity around the world. April Fool’s Day became an annual celebration in America, Canada and Australia. Exposure around the world encouraged its growth and prosperity, as everyone loved having a jolly good time. 

As you’ve probably sorted out by now, this article is not, in fact, fact. APRIL FOOLS!!!! This, folks, is why you should never trust a source from the internet. May the trickster gods and ghosts smile upon you — and your more credible essays this spring season and bring you a happy, prank-y Apr. 1!