Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day actually dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. This wasn’t a popular change with everyone, and some people just forgot it was going to happen. Nevertheless, the Council of Trent called for it to happen in 1563. Those who accepted the change and of course, the Council of Trent were not sympathetic to those who didn’t cooperate. 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. I don’t suppose that first April Fools’ Day was so fun for the victims of the hoaxes in 1563. Those people were really being ridiculed.
With such a start, to this unique day, April Fools’ Day seems like it was really a cruel day, not the fun day we know today. Nevertheless, the idea of jokes and pranks is one that a lot of people could get onboard with…it’s almost as good as a tickle torture to make people laugh. Yes, there is a victim, but it’s all in good fun. The English agreed, and on April 1, 1700, it began. English pranksters collectively decided to make April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, as it was also called, an annual tradition by playing practical jokes on each other. It has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures now.
Favorite pranks included having paper fish placed on the victims’ backs and being referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish), said to symbolize a young, “easily hooked” fish…basically a gullible person. April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk” (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool), in which people were sent on phony errands and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. And I thought the pranks played these days were unique.
These days, lots of people get into the action. Everything from telling someone they had a spider in their hair to the really good pranksters, who can really get their victims going. My own family, when I was a kid growing up, were dedicated pranksters. Things like switching the salt and sugar were a common prank, and even used on days other than April Fools’ Day. Of course, we tried things like a spider in your hair, a rip in your jeans, and such, but we were never mean about it. So, in the end, a day which was meant to really humiliate, has turned into a prankster’s holiday, and most people are good natured about it, and simply have a few great laughs. Happy April Fools’ Day everyone. Let the pranks begin and continue!!
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