Written by Naina Singh a grade 7 student (this piece was first published April 2021)
Every year on first April, we celebrate April fool’s day. We often play pranks on this day, but do you know the history behind it?
What’s the origin of April Fool’s Day?
The exact origin of April Fool’s Day remains unknown, but there are some stories and events in different cultures that we think might be the reason for this day.
What is the most common story?
The most common belief behind this day is that this day came to be in the late 16th century when Europe (mainly France, and then some others) switched to a different calendar system.
Till about 1582, many parts of the world followed a calendar called the Julian calendar – in which the year started in April. But around this time, it is believed that France started following, what’s called the Gregorian calendar, in which the year started in January.
And what we follow today is the Gregorian Calendar – a solar calendar that gets its name from Pope Gregory XIII, who created it.
So, what has that got to do with April Fool’s Day?
So, here’s what is said to have happened (it’s one of the theories)
When France switched, so did many other parts of the world, especially Europe. However, it is believed that many people did not switch and still celebrated April 1st as the New Year, (as they may not have realized or been told). These people came to be known as ‘April Fools’.
Did you know that the Hindu Calendar – known as Panchanga is a luni-solar calendar (based on the sun and the moon) and in this the New Year is mostly at the end of March – around the day of the March equinox, which marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
What are the other beliefs or reasons behind April fool’s Day?
The other popular belief that historians have is that April Fools’ Day is linked to an ancient Roman festival named “Hilaria,” (Latin for joyful). It was a festival where people came together to celebrate the resurrection (rising from the dead) of a Roman God named Attis. At this time people dressed up in costumes and imitated other people.
Atis was a vegetation god who is said to represent the fruits of the Earth, that die in winter and rise again in the spring. April, thus, was a celebration of renewal.
Yet another theory is that this day originated in the medieval times as a “Feast of Fools”, in which people elected a mock bishop (head priest) and mimicked church customs.
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