The History Of April Fool’s Day: Facts You Didn’t Know About April Fool’s Day

The origin of April fool’s day remains a mystery, but historians have tried to link the day to multiple speculated theories. One of the many speculations for its origin attributes it to Nature – during the occurrence of the vernal equinox when the weather taunts and teases, inevitably making us Mother Nature’s April fools. 

The second school of thought is related to France, where different parts of the kingdom celebrated New Year at various holy times, such as Christmas or Easter. Standardizing the first day of a new year, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar (replacing the Julian calendar) to Catholic beginnings in 1582. Another proposed theory is tied to an ancient Roman Festival, Hilaria, that was upheld on March 25 to celebrate the union of Cybele-Attis.

Speculated Origins Of April Fool’s Day

April Fool's Day

For centuries, different cultures have celebrated April Fool’s Day on April 1 despite the unclear origin. Nations, media, and major brands have also embraced and observed April Fool’s traditions, ensuring the unofficial holiday’s long life. However, the unanswered question still stands as ‘What is the exact origin of April Fool’s Day.’ 

Let’s explore some of the proposed explanations by historians tied to April Fool’s Day.

Vernal Equinox Assumption

One of the globally accepted theories is decreed to Mother Nature Herself. Vernal equinox marked the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere when the unpredictable changing weather fooled people. In such times, the weather patterns vary depending on where one lives. Some experience soaring and decreasing temperatures, while others watch the rain and snow follow the sunshine. Additionally, being the first day in the calendar year when daytime hours are longer than night, it almost sounds as if Nature is playing pranks on us.

France Switching Calendars In 1582

The second-guessing dates back to when most people lived under Christendom, where they followed a calendar adopted during the Roman Empire. By then, France used the Julian calendar until Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar that marked January 1 as the start of the New Year. This calendar implied that all churches should follow a singular yearly calendar. However, before the French calendar reform in the sixteenth century, New Year used to be celebrated at the end of March.

The drastic change was not embraced by many. The Gregorian calendar was still news to others, as many people were slow to gain awareness of the newly launched calendar. This gave birth to celebrating April fool’s day, where stalwarts who followed the traditional calendar were mocked. As one of the French early pranks, a paper fish was fixed to the back of those stuck in the past calendar, suggesting how easily they were caught like young fish. The unfortunate victims were then referred to as ‘April Fish.’

The Roman Festival

Some scholars credit the ancient Rome Festival of Hilaria, inspired by the Egyptian superstars of Isis, ‘Osiris, and Seth’ as the roots of April Fool’s Day. Hilaria was a day full of joy and merriment, symbolized by people dressing up in different masquerades. Additionally, the big day involved playing various games and pranking that was even extended to mock officials with high ranks like magistrates. As much as the Roman terms, March 25 was called ‘the eighth of the calendars of April.’ which strongly associated the festival with April 1, there are no proofs to connect Hilaria with April Fool’s Day.


In any case, April fools’ history still remains shrouded in mystery. The day possibly became standardized in the 18th century in Britain. As a tradition in Scotland, April Fool’s Day became a two-day event, sending people on phony errands to hunt the gowk, ‘a cuckoo bird symbolizing a fool.’ The Tailie Day followed, which involved pranks like pinning fake tails or ‘Kick me ‘signs on people’s backs.

Discover the top 10 April fools day prank in history.

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