April Fools’ Day is celebrated in the Western world on the 1st of April of every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, it is not a legal holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day which tolerates practical jokes and general foolishness. The day is marked by the commission of good-humored or funny jokes, hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc.
Traditionally, in some countries such as New Zealand, the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an “April Fool”. In other countries, you’re on your own, so beware! 🙂
The earliest recorded association between 1st April and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”. This is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Chaucer probably meant 32 days after March, i.e. 2nd of May, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. However, readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “32nd of March,” i.e. 1st April. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.
There are many references to the day and the foolish happenings. The name “April Fools” echoes that of the Feast of Fools, a Medieval holiday held on the 28th December.
On a down side, the frequency of April Fools’ hoaxes sometimes makes people doubt real news stories released on April 1. Be sure to check the validity of things on April 1 so you don’t miss something important, such as;
- Gmail’s April 1, 2004 launch was widely believed to be a prank, as Google traditionally perpetrates April Fools’ Day hoaxes each April 1, and the announced 1GB online storage was at the time vastly more than existing online email services
- In 1979, Iran declared April 1 its national Republic Day. Thirty-one years on, this continues to be mistaken for a joke.
Have fun and try not to be too serious. 😀