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The History Behind April Fools’ Day

By Emily Squance, Blogger 

The official origin of April Fools’ Day is actually unknown; there have been many speculations as to how this day gained importance. Some historians believe the day may originate back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Those that were unfamiliar with the switch, celebrated the new year during the last week of March through the first of April . The people who were still using the Julian calendar were made fun of and became the butt of jokes. However, historians aren’t confident enough to officially dedicate the creation of April Fools ‘Day to the switching of the French calendars. 

Another possibility is that April Fools’ was linked to a festival in ancient Rome. This festival was called Hilaria which was celebrated by the followers of the cult of Cybele. The followers dressed up in disguises and mocked their fellow citizens. This festival celebrated Cybele, the “mother of the gods,” and Attis. Cybele fell in love with a human man named Attis and when he strayed to another woman, Cybele made him go insane. Attis killed himself, after which flowers grew from his blood and his body became a tree. 

There is clear proof that the holiday was practiced around 1776 in Britain due to an article in Gentleman’s Magazine. The article discussed a custom the United Kingdom has of making fools of people on the first day of April. However, many believe the holiday is celebrated in honor of the trickery Mother Nature plays on nature this time of the year with unpredictable weather. 

Even though there is speculation of the official origin of the prank-filled day, it’s celebrated in 11 countries around the world. The holiday spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the day became a two-day event that involved hunting and pranks. In Brazil, the day is known as the dia da mentira, or “day of the lie.” The news outlets will post fake headlines with false claims and many people will tell white lies to prank their friends. However, in Ireland, jokes and pranks on this day are expected to end at noon and those who continue to play them past then are considered foolish. Some people even go to extremes by driving on the wrong side of the road! 


Even though the coronavirus is still affecting the world, you can still find many COVID-safe ways to prank the people around you. The day can give you a chance to brighten the atmosphere of by cracking a joke or being silly. Remember to keep your friends’ limits and boundaries in mind; even though this day allows endless pranks, it’s important to recognize the difference between what’s funny and what’s hurtful. 

If you are unsure of what prank you would like to pull or if you would like to learn more information about April Fools’ Day, check out this article by Good Housekeeping

This entry was posted in: Blog, Pop Culture

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VARIANT Magazine is a student-run fashion and lifestyle publication on Ohio University's campus.

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