April Fool’s Day (celebrated on April 1 all over the world), is also called All Fools’ Day. So, how did this odd, prank-centric holiday come to be celebrated in the first place, and why is it called April Fools’ Day?
According to History.com Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian Calendar as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.
Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to festivals such as Hilaria (Latin for joyful), which was celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March by followers of the cult of Cybele. It involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens and even magistrates and was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth.
Brazil celebrates April 1 as “Dia da Mentira“, or “Lie Day,” in which people try to fool their loved ones. Always for comedic effect, of course.
In Scotland, April Fools’ Day was traditionally called Gowk Day—gowk being another name for the cuckoo, a common symbol of the fool. Pranks continued into April 2, Tailie Day, when celebrants traditionally attach a “paper tail” (or a “kick me” sign) to their friends’ backs.