Finding someone unaware of the holiday celebrated annually April 1 might be a tough ask. It’s not a modern day invention, as some holidays are. In fact, All Fool’s Day roots go back as far as Ancient Rome. Picture this, Mother Nature has presented some hints of spring and then possibly snow again, the Vernal Equinox, and Romans celebrating Hilaria with practical jokes March 25.
Sixteenth Century France comes in to the scene with April 1 celebrated as the New Year (Feast of the Annunciation) and festivities began several days before. A popular theory was that in 1582 Pope Gregory changed the Christian calendar to being January 1. Word of this change was slow to reach everyone and April 1 continued to be celebrated as the New Year in those areas. Some folks even refused to accept the new calendar. These folks often had pranks played on them and were referred to as “April Fools”. Maybe they were sent on a “fool’s errand” such as being invited to a pretend event or sent on a wild goose chase for an item that does not exist. It is commonly assumed these prank-playing traditions were spread to other areas in Europe and then eventually to Colonial America. While this theory and others have holes in them, being not enough evidence available, it’s likely we may never know the very first All Fool’s Day.
The pranking period has an expiration on it in some cultures. While this might not be the case in America, pranking ends by noon on April 1. If you prank someone after the clock strikes 12, bad luck is on the side of the prankster. On the flip side, if you are pranked and don’t accept in good fun, bad luck is headed your way. And look out in France, the custom of sticking a picture of a fish on the back of someone “ Poisson d’Avril” without their knowledge, still exists. In Ireland the “victim” is given the task of delivering an important envelope to be hand-delivered to a named person. The letter simply reads, “Send the fool further” ensuring that the recipient will tuck the letter back in the envelope and instruct the “fool” to deliver it to another individual.
Whatever you choose to do on the day make it clever, harmless, and good-natured.