When we think about the most unexpected, unofficial holiday, it’s probably April 1. Also known as April Fool’s Day, it is a holiday of pranks and humiliations, where people pull pranks on each other for fun. It seems the day is one of the most light-hearted ones in the year, but where did it originate from?
One source states that in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar, the Gregorian Calendar, to replace the old Julian Calendar for the Europeans. The new calendar stated that New Year’s Day was supposed to be celebrated on January 1st instead of April 1st. According to popular explanations, many people either refused to accept the new date or were unaware of the change and continued to celebrate New Year’s on April 1st. Those who celebrated on January 1st thought that this was hilarious and made fun of these traditionalists. They would send them on “fool’s errands” or try tricking them to believe something false. Soon enough, this tradition was passed along all over Europe.
Another source states that April Fool’s is a welcoming for Spring. With the transition of seasons from winter to spring, we celebrate with more light-hearted traditions. It’s somewhat similar to Halloween, but Halloween embraces the darkness of winter than the light of spring. The pranks are lighter in spirit unlike the dangerous pranks performed on Halloween or “Hell’s Night.”
April Fool’s was not popular in the media until around the mid 1950’s. One famous example is from the BBC show Panorama of April 1, 1957, when viewers were introduced to a family of Italian spaghetti farmers. To introduce the idea of April Fool’s, the spaghetti farmers sarcastically joked that their backyard is filled with spaghetti noodles from the seed that they have planted. At the time, spaghetti was a relatively new food in Britain, so hundreds of people were naive to believe the prank and called in to ask where they can possibly get a spaghetti tree.
To this day, April Fool’s is observed throughout the Western world on April 1st. The very name “April” comes from Latin, which means “to open”, so April signifies the opening of spring. The passage between the darkness and cold of winter and the light and warmth of spring is a seasonal change to be celebrated. Typical practices on April Fool’s Day include telling people ridiculous jokes, pulling pranks, sending someone on a “fool’s errand”, looking for something that doesn’t exist, and more.
So, next year when April Fool’s Day comes along, make sure to pull a joke or prank on your friend, classmate, teacher, or family! However, remember that if the victim isn’t laughing, then the April foolishness has not worked.
Chloe S. Mun, Grade 8
Jeffrey Trail Middle School