Do you know why we prank each other on this holiday? Learn about the mystery with us!
April Fool’s Day is one of our most curious holidays and I’m so enchanted every year by all the funny ways people celebrate it. The first day of April is always such a thrill for friends, family, and entire neighborhoods that concoct plans and prank each other. Some pranks are so well done that they become famous. The funniest part of this holiday is that we don’t entirely understand why we do this!
Over time, different cultures tend to take religious holidays and adapt them to their own traditions. April Fool’s Day, however, is very mysterious, because it doesn’t seem to have strong religious roots and people have adopted it without having an idea of how it started.
The very first time it was celebrated may have been one big prank!
When Did April Fool’s Day Start?
To understand the first day of April, you should know that ancient Roman cultures use to celebrate their New Year in the beginning of spring. It wasn’t until 1582 that the pope ordered for a new calendar to move the New Year to January 1st instead. Some say that everyone who didn’t know the New Year was moved were fools for still celebrating it on April 1st. This could have something to do with why we celebrate April Fool’s Day, but the tradition of pranking people was actually around even before the new calendar.
Others say that Constantine, a Roman emperor around the year 300, let a jester become king for a day and the jester decided to make it a holiday. People thought that a jester had actually become king and fell for Constantine’s joke! If this really happened, it was long before the new calendar, and could have been why there was already a loose tradition for being silly.
If you enjoy reading medieval stories, you may be familiar with The Nun’s Priest’s Tale within the collection, The Canterbury Tales. This was written in the late 1300s and use to be thought of as the first time April Fool’s Day was documented in a book because the author makes a reference to this time of year and the story is about a foolish rooster. It turns out, Chaucer actually gave astronomical coordinates within his story that say it takes place in late May, but for a long time people referenced this tale as a way to keep April Fool’s traditions alive.
This storybook is also so wonderful for children over the age of 10 to read because it’s written in Middle English. When adults first read this book, it’s tough to get through the medieval versions of words and spellings, but kids pick up this style of oral verse very well and might recognize it in some of their favorite movies, like King Arthur or Robin Hood.
In the end, it seems we might still celebrate April Fool’s Day because it’s been an easy day to prank someone for a long time. We may never know why we celebrate April Fool’s Day, but neither have many people before us.
It’s fun to just be silly for one special day out of the year!
Do you have any special pranks you pull on April Fool’s Day? Share them in the comments below!