In 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar it caused the New Year to be celebrated on January 1 versus the previous start of the New Year on the Spring Equinox. New Year celebrations had previously lasted from March 25 to April 1. It was a hard transition for some people, and when they continued to celebrate the New Year in the Spring they became the butt of jokes and were called April Fools.
This theory regarding the origin of April Fools means it has been celebrated for several centuries by many different cultures. Odessa, Ukraine is the only place in the world where April Fools is an official city holiday with a parade in the city center, free concerts and street fairs. Why Odessa? It was started by the KVN, a comedy team, after their TV show and union competitions got cancelled in 1972. The Romans held a festival they called Hilaria or Joyful which was held on March 25, and a Medieval Feast of Fools in Spanish speaking countries was held at the end of the year when pranks were played.
April Fools Day exists in great literature as well. Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned April foolishness in the Canterbury Tales in 1362. The first official British reference to “Fooles holy day” was in 1686 by the writer John Aubrey.The oldest reference of April Fools is in the book of Genesis in the Bible. In the story of Noah and the Ark, Noah sent out a dove on the first of April to see if the waters had receded. When it was clear they hadn’t by the return of the dove, it was referred to as a fool’s errand.
However this odd holiday evolved, enjoy yourself and don’t be too hard on your friends and associates.
Happy April Fools Day from the Recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates.