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History of April Fool’s Day

by Leyou Jiang

Every year, on the same day, many people gather together and pull pranks on each other. Even big companies and social media influencers have made their fair share of pranks and gimmicks on April Fool’s Day.


The Origin of April Fool’s Days


Many historians don’t have an exact origin of the infamous holiday but have found evidence that it stemmed from the late 1500s. According to historians, the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar could have been a cause of April Fool’s Day. This change caused the start of the calendar to change from the first of April to the first of January. 

Many people, however, either did not hear about it or accepted the calendar change and still celebrated the New Year’s in the last week of March and the first day of April. These people were then called “April Fools”. In France, it was common practice to stick a paper fish onto these gullible people because they symbolized the gullible and easily caught nature of these people. They were often called “poisson d’avril” which means “April Fish” because of this.

Other April Fool’s Origin Theories


There are other theories on how April Fool’s Day was created. Some historians have linked the fact that Mother Nature “fools” the human race with the sudden change of weather. Others have linked the festivals of Hilaria in Ancient Rome where people dressed up to mock fellow citizens and even government officials. However, the most widely accepted and more popular theory is the change in calendars.

The History of the Holiday


In later years, during the 18th century, the tradition spread throughout Britain. In Scotland specifically, the tradition was turned into a 2-day holiday. On the first day, people were sent on stupid errands and jobs, which was known as “hunting the gowk”. The second day was called “tailie day” and was a day of pranks played on people’s behinds, such as attaching fake tails or even “kick me” signs on them.

Some of the Most Famous April Fool’s Pranks:


1905 – A German newspaper wrote that thieves had dug a tunnel underneath the U.S. Treasury and stolen $268 million in silver and gold.

1957 – The BBC aired a segment on live television about Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti from a tree.

1962 – Sweden’s Sveriges Television aired a segment where a “technical expert” offered a way for viewers to convert their black-and-white TV set’s pictures into color. His instructions were to: “Drape a nylon stocking over the screen so that the prismatic qualities of the nylon mesh will refract light waves in the proper way”.


1995 – Sports Illustrated wrote about a supposed 28-year-old named Sidd Finch who learned Tibetan techniques, and mastered something called “siddhi” (the yogic mastery of mind and body). These techniques supposedly allowed him to throw a 168-mph fastball.

1996 – Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, announced that they agreed to purchase Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, with the intent to rename it “Taco Liberty Bell”.

2000 – Google announced their newly-devised Mentalplex Technology. A supposed search mechanism that actually reads your mind when you want to search for something. 


2008 – The BBC showed evidence of a colony of flying penguins, which migrates thousands of miles from the Antarctic to bask in the tropical climates of a rainforest.











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