What is the history and origin behind the day? April Fool’s Day also known as All Fool’s Day has a very interesting worldwide history that spans over many cultures, centuries and histories. I observe many different holidays and always make sure I know the history before doing so. April Fools’ Day is one of the most light-hearted days of the year recognized on April 1st. Though its exact origins are not clear some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others recognize it as an adoption of a new calendar.
Prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1564, the date was observed as New Year’s Day by cultures as varied as the Roman and the Hindu cultures. The holiday is considered to be related to the festival of the vernal equinox which occurs on March 20th or 21st of every year. The English gave April Fool’s Day its first widespread celebration during the 18th century and it still continues to this day.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar) to replace the old Julian calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on January 1st. That same year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s Day to January 1st. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date or did not learn about it and therefore continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st. Other people began to make fun of these “traditionalists” and would send them on “fool’s errands” or try to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe and April Fool’s Day became very popular.
There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn’t fully account for the spread of April Fools’ Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools’ Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.