What Is the History of April Fools’ Day?

(Last Updated On: March 24, 2020)
What Is the History of April Fools' Day?

Throughout the year, there are days that we celebrate that may not technically get us out of work or school. Rather, they’re just a fun tradition. April Fools’ Day is a perfect example. With a colorful and often debated history, it is celebrated worldwide and has been an outlet for pranks and trickery of all kinds. 

The History of April Fools’ Day

The disputed history of April Fools’ Day sheds a colorful light on society today. The day has become ingrained into cultures around the world despite its foggy past. It has been rumored that April Fools’ Day started as a result of the transference of the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in France. This event dates way back to 1582. As the change was not widely noticed, people continued to celebrate the new year on April 1st. As time progressed, people who did so were mocked and jested about. 

Check out this ancient calendar quiz!

There is another origin story that takes us back to 1392 and finds its roots in the old book of The Canterbury Tales. This is a collection of short stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer. In the text, there is a line that implies the month of March has a 32nd day. At the time, that statement was considered to be a rather humorous joke. Overtime, people couldn’t seem to let the joke go and began referring to the laughable 32nd day in Chaucer’s text as the first of April. Eventually, the “joke” of a day became devoted to silly pranks. 

The last possible origin story of April Fools’ Day did not stem from a calendar or a joke, but rather the environment. April comes at the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a time when weather patterns typically become increasingly erratic, with bouts of sunny days only to be followed by a dumping of rain (or even snow in some places). So there’s speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to springtime, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

How Did It Become Popular?

With a history so murky, one would think this light-hearted tradition would have trouble finding traction in modern society. That did not turn out to be the case. Every year countries continue to celebrate this crazy day. A long-standing supporter of April Fools’ day has been worldwide TV and news networks. One year, the British Broadcasting Corporation ran a story about Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti crops. They went as far as to show footage of farmers plucking spaghetti from trees. 

Businesses continued to take advantage of this day by offering special products. Burger King advertised a new “Left-Handed Whopper”. When customers came looking for this new item, employees acted dumbfounded. 

With large corporations and businesses participating in this holiday, it only increases the popularity of the joke. There is a natural competition within people and oftentimes when a joke is made on someone, the only option is to play a retaliation joke back. This is a healthy way to keep relationships light and filled with humor. Laughter can keep stress low and increase life longevity, and the fact that it is contagious can make April Fools’ Day a day of relaxation and joy.

Why Do We Celebrate It Today?

As society has progressed and modernized there has been more of an emphasis put on work. There is a lot of pressure experienced by those taking part in the daily grind.

So, why is April Fools’ Day still celebrated?

Perhaps the answer is simpler than we thought—The day allows a bit of laughter and fun in a world that is sometimes just too serious.

This fun day allows people to step out of their responsibilities and back into their child-sized shoes and behave like they are back in school. For this reason, April Fools’ Day will continue to be a cherished tradition celebrated by many generations to come. 


Interested in learning more about different holidays? Check out these articles.

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