A to Z Challenge….A is for April Fool’s Day History

For this month’s challenge, posts will be about history. Whenever possible, it will be women’s history. No offense to the men, but you all are heavily noticed in history books where women…not so much.

– April Fool’s Day History – err educated guesses as it is unknown the actual history of the celebration of this day

April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

 

New Year’s Day Moves

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1.

Despite the Gregorian Calendar replacing the previous Julian one which changed New Year’s day from April 1st to January 1st, it is a popular belief that many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

Problems With This Explanation

There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fools’ Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools’ Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently

Constantine and Kugel

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

“In a way,” explained Prof. Boskin, “it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor.”

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

Spring Fever

It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there’s something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations.

Whatever April Fool’s Day Origins, it’s a fun celebration. You’ve won a pony!  Happy April Fools Everyone.

Bibliography

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html# ixzz2PAJV2fyX

www.snopes.com

www.wikepedia.org

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2 comments on “A to Z Challenge….A is for April Fool’s Day History

  1. This was fascinating!!!~ Thanks for putting so much effort into this very interesting post! I love learning about the histories of all sorts of “holidays.”

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