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April Fools' Day - which is sometimes called All Fools Day - is not really a holiday. It is however, one of the most light hearted days of year.
April Fools' Day as we currently know it is likely related to the 18th century change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Ancient cultures included the Romans and the Hindues celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1st. Under the new calendar, New Year's Day shifted back to January 1st.
According to popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1st. Other "more up to the times" people began to make fun of the traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.
There is however, no direct historical evidence to support that explanation. It is simple conjecture.
Historical evidence does however show that many celebrations of hilarity occurred during the months of February, March and April.
The timing of this day of pranks seems to be related to the arrival of spring, when nature "fools" mankind with fickle weather, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The Country Diary of Garden Lore, which chronicles the goings-on in an English garden, says that April Fools' Day "is thought to commemorate the fruitless mission of the rook (the European crow), who was sent out in search of land from Noah's flood-encircled ark."
The Romans' end-of-winter celebration, Hilaria, and the end of the Celtic new year festival also happened around the beginning of April.
Others theories include the day having something to do with the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.
Wherever and whenever the custom began, it has since evolved its own lore and set of unofficial rules. Superstition has it that the pranking period expires at noon on the 1st of April and any jokes attempted after that time will call bad luck down onto the head of the perpetrator. Additionally, those who fail to respond with good humor to tricks played upon them are said to attract bad luck to themselves.
Not all superstitions about the day are negative, though - fellas fooled by a pretty girl are said to be fated to end up married to her, or at least enjoy a healthy friendship with the lass.
In Scotland, an April fool is called an April "gowk" - Scottish for cuckoo, an emblem of simpletons. In England, a fool is called a gob, gawby or gobby. In France, the victim of a hoax is called a "poisson d'avril," an April fish. ("April fish" refers to a young fish, thus one easily caught.) The French delight in shouting "Poisson d'Avril!" at the denouement of the foolery. Some also insist all such pranks include a fish or at least a vague reference to same within the joke. Asking someone during a phone conversation to hold the line, then later returning to the call and inquiring of the victim if there'd been any bites is a popular groaner. So are pranks which trick the victim into placing calls to fish shops or the local aquarium.
If you are looking for some lighthearted jokes to play one your friends, check out April Fools.com.
On a side note: I wish to wish my very good furriend Sarah-Dippy a very Hippo Purrthday, as she turns 15 tomorrow for April Fools' Day. Sarah say she really like the sleepy pillow I give her, and the card, but says "I don't know why auntie and momma were laughing so hard tho...I thought I looked stylin'."
Remember: Today is Midnight Monday on House Panthers! Check out my Midnight Monday entry on Digicats!