Many theories surround the fun-loving holiday of April Fools’ Day, but where did it all begin?


One theory is that the holiday traces all the way back to the late 16th century. Pope Gregory XIII allegedly adopted a new yearly calendar, since called the Gregorian Calendar. In it, the New Year began on January 1, as it does today, but before that, the first of each new year was April 1. Not everyone was aware of the change in time, and so celebrated the New Year on April 1 – those who did were branded as fools.

Another theory pins the blame on Geoffrey Chaucer, author of 14th century work The Caterbury Tales. One story, called “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” takes place on March 32, which obviously does not exist, and would really be April 1. The story is a mock-heroic story that emphasizes foolishness.

A final theory says that, because the day falls on the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, it is often difficult to predict the weather on April 1. Therefore, most people are foolishly unprepared for whatever the weather brings that day.

“One of the interesting things about the holiday is that you can go right back to the beginning of the earliest records of it, and people always hated it,” says curator of the Museum of Hoaxes, Alex Boese told The Verge. “It’s one of the least-liked holidays there is. There’s a large group of people that just despise it. For literally centuries, people have been predicting that April Fools’ Day must be on its last legs, and surely this awful celebration is going to die out soon, but it just keeps on going.”

While coworkers and roommates still prank each other inanely year after year, “April Fools’ Day has become less interactive and now it’s more a form of passive entertainment,” Boese argues. “I compare it to the way people watch the Super Bowl — where you watch it for the ads. In a similar way, people now wait for the ads on April Fools’ Day to see what kind of strange stuff the advertisers are going to dream up and the weird gimmicks they’ll come out with.”

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