Brain Post: The Origin of April Fools’ Day

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April fools day prank from Belgium
April fools day prank from Denmark.  The old “subway thru the street” trick.

April Fools’ Day is a fun holiday, but have you ever thought of where it comes from?  We hadn’t, until today.


April Fools’ Day is celebrated on March 32nd (aka April 1st) and is a day when you play pranks and tricks on one another.

“In ItalyFrance and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages.”  – wikipedia

just read it
Invitation to come to the tower of London and watch them “wash the lions”


It feels like April Fools’ Day is basically a conglomerate of bizarre happenstances that occurred in Europe a long time ago.  They are hard to describe, so I’ll let wikipedia do most the work:

One of the precursors of April Fools’ Day were the Roman festival of Hilaria, held on March 25th, where pranks were played on each other.  Even this holiday was stolen from an older holiday held in Greece called  ΑΝΑΒΑΣΙΣ.

“In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.  The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.” – wikipedia

“In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubreyreferred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to theTower of London to “see the Lions washed”. – wikipedia

Not the most exciting history every, but kinda neat to know.

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