Have you ever played a joke on someone and then, just when that person has fallen for it, said "April Fools!"? April 1 is known as April Fools' Day, and, although no one really knows how the holiday began, it's a great chance to play a joke on someone--as long as the joke is harmless. April Fools' Day gives everyone a chance to play "the fool."
April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is a day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool". Elsewhere, such as in Ireland, Russia, France, the Netherlands, Canada, and the U.S., the jokes last all day.
The origin of April Fools' Day is obscure. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar, which it replaced. In many pre-Christian cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signalled the start of the spring planting season. An April Fool may have been someone who did this prematurely. Another possible origin lies in the fact that when King Charles IX of France officially changed the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, some of his subjects continued using the old system. April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things. . The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible.
Many early festivals permitted foolery and trickery aimed at those in power, probably as a sort of social safety valve to allow those at the bottom of rigid social hierarchies to vent their pent up frustrations. Bosses, teachers, and people who put on airs remain favourite targets for April Fool's pranksters to this day. The Saturnalia, a Roman holiday observed at the end of December, included a number of themes of this sort. In addition to dancing, carousing, and the exchange of gifts, slaves were allowed to pretend that they ruled their masters and a mock king, the Saturnalicius princeps, reigned for the day. By the fourth century CE, many of the traditions of the Saturnalia had transformed into observances associated with Christmas. Some of its leftover rituals may well have melded into forerunners of April Fool's day. Ethnologists think this transformation may also have been cross-fertilized by popular Northern European festivals whose customs made sport of the hierarchy of the Druids.
During the middle ages, a number of revels emerged which probably contributed additional bits to the April Fool's day prototype. Northern Europeans had long observed an ancient festival to honour Lud, the Celtic god of humour, but the most important predecessor was the Festus Fatuorum (the Feast of Fools), another descendant of the Roman Saturnalia. On this occasion (mostly observed in France) celebrants elected a mock pope and burlesqued church rituals. Not surprisingly, the church tried its best to quash such affronts but the observance survived well into the 16th century. When the church finally succeeded in suppressing the Feast of Fools, irreverent merrymakers switched their attentions to Mardi Gras and Carnival. Especially since the advent