Where Did April Fools' Day Come From?

There exist many conflicting theories on the origins of the holiday, although the most compelling dates back to Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Many conflicting theories exist that try and pinpoint the origins of the holiday everyone in your office hates you for. Of all these theories, the most likely root of what we now know as April Fools' Day dates back to Pope Gregory XIII, who reigned — or if reign isn't the right word — who pope'd from 1572 to 1584. I'm sure you're familiar with the calendar hanging on your wall that starts in January, ends in December, and consists of seemingly arbitrary amounts of days per month. You can thank Pope Greg for that. His Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian Calendar in 1582.


One major change with the calendar switch was that New Year's Day moved from the end of March to the beginning of January. As Tech Times notes, those who didn't get the memo about the change of date and celebrated the old New Year's Day at the end of March were thus deemed, naturally, April fools. 

Other references to early spring silliness exist beyond the Gregorian theory. The Canterbury Times explains that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1475) includes a story of a fox who plays tricks on March 32nd. The ancient Roman Hilaria festival, which as its name suggests, was a celebration of all things hilarious, was traditionally held in late March. The Middle Ages featured a similar event called the Feast of Fools. 

The likeliest answer to the question above — where did it all come from? — is that April Fools' Day is merely a modern riff on an ancient tradition. For thousands of years, the end of winter has been met with glee. Our current practice simply builds upon the custom. 

So tomorrow, when you return your coworker's stolen stapler in the middle of a Jell-o mold, be sure to think of the Ancient Romans and good ol' Pope Greg who helped make it all happen.

Read more at Canterbury Times and Tech Times.

Photo credit: Gang Liu / Shutterstock

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less