April Fool's Day and Its Origin

July 27, 2018
Whether you're a cynic with a perpetual rain cloud hanging over your head, or little miss sunshine with a tendency to vomit words every now and then, or someone who loves talking to spirits (what?!!), there's a day which actually unites you and your differences. You just cannot escape the 1st of April, or the over the top pranks which comes as a bonus feature! It's a tradition to attack unsuspecting people with ridiculous jokes, and watch them turn into the perfect fool you've always wanted to tease.

Despite its global popularity, we seldom bother ourselves to learn a bit more about this 1st of April, and how it turned into this fool's day. And why April? Why not March Fool's Day, or November Fool's Day? There are numerous accounts as to why April 1st is a day we 'honour' the fools, some of them true, some false, and some of them are just a figment of some prankster's wild imagination. We will go with the truth, and provide you a brief history of 1st April.

The very first reference to April Fool's Day was made back in 1508, by the French poet, Eloy d'Amerval. He mentioned it as "poisson d' avril", which means, "fish of april". Now, there is indeed a connection between fish and a fool, as it implies a very gullible person who can be fooled easily, or 'hooked'. See the wordplay there? The French sure had their own pun.

Also, during the middle ages, most of the towns in French celebrated New Year's Day on 25th March, and the festivities usually lasted for a whole week, before finally ending on 1st April. And those unsuspecting revellers who did not know that France had switched from the Julian calender to the Gregorian calender, became the target of the jokes, as the people made fun of them for celebrating the New Year's Day on a different date.

There were accounts about a certain nobleman, who used to send his servants on foolish errands. The Flemish poet, Edward de Dene wrote about this back in 1539. Well, we know now who was a practical joker back then, don't we?

The Dutch had a proverb to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Duke, Alvarez de Toledo in Brielle, 1572. The proverb reads, "Op 1 aprilverloor Alva zijnbril", which translates to "On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses". Bril here referred to Brielle, used as a metaphor to make a joke out of Alvarez's massive defeat. I do hope the Duke found his 'glasses', though! Although this proverb manages to humiliate the Duke, it fails to provide any solid back story as to the celebration of April Fool's Day.

The first British reference to April Fool's Day was made back in 1686. John Aubrey wasted no time in christening the day as 'Fooles holy day", and rightly so, for the people were tricked into visiting the tower of London to 'see the lions washed'! We all have that one friend in our group who would fall prey to these kind of silly rumours. Or is that you?

Whatever may be the history, or what happened in the middle ages, or who actually conspired to fool people for unalloyed entertainment, we may never know for sure. In UK, if you try to fool people after midday, you are the fool. Next time, try to up your game and fool your innocent friends before time runs out, and you become the fool by default!

Post Written by - Lopamudra

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