Where Does April Fool’s Day Come From?


Happy April Fools Day you pranksters! Tis finally that day of the year where you can even the score with someone who pranks you on end. But with this day does anybody know how it started? Have you ever been curious where the pranks originated?

The origin of April fools is actually unknown although there are many speculations on where it could’ve started. From what I’ve seen, the most popular origin theory says it started in France in the year 1582. This was around the time when France switched calendars, so instead of celebrating the new year at the end of March it was changed January 1st. Some people didn’t accept the change or didn’t get the memo, so they became the target of pranks. The main prank was to place a paper fish on someone’s back meaning that person was gullible. Another theory is related to the vernal equinox (1st day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere). This theory is just about how Mother Nature fools/fooled people with her changing, unpredictable weather.

The traditional pranks spread throughout Europe and eventually the rest of the world. Scotland has a 2-day event that begins with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. Ireland also has an event similar to “hunting the gowk” in which people are sent on their way with a letter on a wild goose chase. This person then delivers the letter to others who continue to send them in a random direction. It apparently ends when a letter reads “send the fool further”. In India, they have a festival of Holi (similar to the ancient European celebration called Feast of Fools) where people would playfully trade caste, status, gender, and age roles for one day each year. In Brazil they celebrate Dia da Mentira, aka “Lie Day,” where people try to fool their friends and family.

Today, both kids and adults participate in pulling pranks on April 1st. Some classic pranks include a whoopee cushion, fake dog poop, fake news, a pie to the face, or just telling jokes. The jokes don’t stop at the public either, many businesses participate in April Fools Day. In 1957, BBC reported fake news and showed footage of Swiss farmers harvesting noodles in which fooled many gullible people. Other businesses over the years also continued this fun trend, including Sports Illustrated. In 1985, they made a fake article about a pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. You can imagine how many people were mind blown before they realized it was a hoax! Fast food chains like Taco Bell and Burger King also tend to trick people through social media. Taco Bell had announced it had agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. Back in 1998, Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper” which left customers ordering the fake sandwich.

What are some of your favorite April Fool’s pranks? Comment below!