The origin of April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day is commonly known as a day of practical joking and merrymaking.

While some have ignored this whimsical and light-hearted day of frivolity, others have thrived in the spirit it represents and have kept the tradition going for centuries.

The beginnings of April Fools’ Day are unclear. While there are some differing versions of the story, most historians like to date its origin to approximately 1582, during the reign of King Charles IX of France.

Surprisingly, the story began with a change of the date of the New Year celebration.

In those days, New Year’s festivities opened around March 25 and continued until April 1. However, with the reform of the Gregorian Calendar issued by Pope Gregory XIII, New Year’s was moved to Jan. 1.

But, in sixteenth century France, word traveled slowly. Many people living in rural areas unknowingly continued to celebrate the New Year in April.

These peasants came to be known as “April fools,” and, as the years went by, they became the subject of countless practical jokes. The practice eventually spread to England in the eighteenth century and later made its way to the American colonies. Thus, we have our current idea of April Fools’ Day.

The April Fools’ Day tradition has been kept alive thanks to exuberant participants who have expressed the spirit of good humor through tomfoolery and practical jokes.

“As long as you’re not hurting anybody on an emotional level, physical level or spiritual level, it’s okay,” senior Mike Leitzel said. “As long as it’s all in good fun and they know it’s a joke, it’s cool.”

Many students enjoy looking back with fond memories on past April Fools’ Day pranks.

There will always be some who appreciate the classics, like first-year Julie Baratta.

“When I was ten, I tied a rubber band around the sink sprayer and when my mom turned the sink on she got sprayed and was slightly angry at me,” Baratta said.

Others, like first-year Melissa Schoonmaker, have had more shocking experiences.

“In sixth grade, some of my teachers and a student played a horrible prank where the student was being really disruptive and the teachers pretended to give him a really severe punishment,” Schoonmaker said.

Still, there are those like first -year Renee Sanderford who look back and laugh on the pranks that have been played on them.

“In high school I would make tea every morning and my sister thought it would be funny one day to put salt in the teapot, so I had salty tea and I had no idea why,” Sanderford said.
As any seasoned prankster knows, preparation is key.

“The past couple years I’ve totally forgotten to prepare and trick my friends, but this year I’m excited to put a lot of effort into it and do something spectacular,” junior Taryn Ortlip said.

So, whether you are preparing a prank or expecting to have one played on you, enjoy this good-humored day and thank the French peasants for their New Year’s blunder.


David Johnson and Shmuel Ross,  “April Fools’ Day Origin and History.”
Jerry Wilson, “April Fools’ Day!”
Graeme Stemp-Morlock, “April Fools’ Day Facts: Behind the Laughs.”

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