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April Fools Day History

Would you like to know more about April Fools Day history? April 1st used to be the beginning of a new year in many cultures. In 1582, the French ruler Charles IX, introduced the Gregorian calendar and changed New Year’s Day to January 1st. Many people did not like this and refused to make the change. They were called fools and had practical jokes played on them. So while April Fools Day may not be of key importance in world history, it does have an interesting back story behind it.

April Fools Day History

April Fools Day History

People who did not want to change were not only the butt of practical jokes, but were also ridiculed and sent on fool’s errands. The “fools” were called "poisson d'avril," which means “April fish” or a naive, young fish that you could easily catch. Sometimes, a paper fish was hooked on the back of someone for a joke. After a while, this practice grew into a day to play practical jokes. This silly celebration spread from France to England and Scotland sometimes in the 18th century and was spread later on to the United States by both the English and the French.

Celebrations around the World

Now that you understand April Fools Day history, we can look at celebrations around the world. Scotland celebrates for two days with the second day being reserved for pranks that involve the back side of your body. This day is called Taily Day and is where the “Kick Me” prank originated. In England, jokes are played only in the morning and the victim of the prank is called a noodle.

Other countries have similar celebrations. Mexico has a day for pranks observed on December 28th. In Rome, a celebration called the Festival of Hilaria is on March 25th and is commonly called Roman Laughing Day. Portugal observes April Fools Day on the Sunday or Monday before Lent. Part of their celebration involves throwing flour at friends. March 31st is the Huli Festival in India when people not only play pranks but smear paint on one another to celebrate spring’s arrival.

Many people get in on the fun of April Fools Day from simple hoaxes like “What’s that in your hair?” or “Your shoe’s untied” to more elaborate ones that go on all day. Even the media gets involved with made-up news stories or a heavy metal music station claiming to have changed their format to “All Beatles All the Time.”

All in all, April Fools Day is a pretty fun holiday. You don’t have to buy presents, costumes, candy, cook food, or visit relatives. It is good, clean fun on a day where everyone has to remain ever watchful.

Famous Hoaxes

Now that you understand April Fools Day history, you may want to know about some famous hoaxes. Here are a few:

In the late 1960s, the rumor spread that Paul McCartney was dead. Supposedly, he died in a car crash and the Beatles covered up his death by hiring a look alike. Proof of this cover-up was supposedly in lyrics of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and on the cover of their album “Abbey Road.”

Milli Vanilli pulled off a great hoax of being musicians. They were caught lip-synching all their songs. When news of this got out, their Grammy for Best New Artist was taken back and several lawsuits were filed.

In 1983, the German magazine “Stern” paid $3.8 million for Adolf Hitler’s diaries. These were faked by Konrad Kujau, a Third Reich documents dealer. He was convicted and received a three year prison sentence.

One of the most famous of all hoaxes occurred on October 30, 1938. Parts of the H. G. Wells’ book The War of the Worlds was read on the radio in the form of a newscast. Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre Company performed this adaptation, which people thought was real. The broadcast caused mass panic.