Question From My Son:
What is April Fool’s Day?
It is a day when we play little pranks on one another.
Dreaded Follow Up Question:
Quit Mucking With The Date
The prevailing idea involves the switch from the Julian to Gregorian calendar, but it is based entirely on conjecture and not evidence.
According to legend, sometime in the 8th century BCE, Romulus declared the new year began with the Vernal Equinox.
Be it truth or myth, Julius Caesar came along in 46 B.C.E. and moved the date of the new year to January 1 with the introduction of the Julian calendar.
But there was a problem. The Julian calendar did not reflect the actual time it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun. It assumes 1 year is equal to 365.25 days, but it is actually 11 minutes less. Eleven minutes doesn’t seem like a big deal, but over a period of roughly 1600 years those minutes add up to several days.
By the time Pope Gregory XIII came into power in 1572, the calendar was a full 10 days off from the Vernal Equinox and Winter Solstice time. Pope Gregory was particularly concerned that Easter day was moving further and further away from the Vernal Equinox.
Slower Than Snail Mail
In addition to religious allegiance and holy days alignment confusion, it could take years for word to reach some rural towns and lack of ubiquitous media reminders made it easy to forget new laws.
It is thought those who continued celebrating the new year on April 1, from lack of knowledge, plain forgetfulness or indignation, were called “April fools”.
Given the bad blood among Europe’s superpower countries, it can be presumed Catholic dominated Spain and France did not hesitate to call Protestant dominated England a variety of names; least of all “fools”.
These “fools” were mocked for their gullibleness with pranks such as signs placed on their backs, sent on fool’s errands or tricking them into believing something that is untrue.
Come Into Its Own
Anthropologists consider these playful events “renewal festival” welcoming the return of Spring and the end of the cold and dark days.
Trust No One
While the antics on April Fool’s Day and others like it may be lighthearted ways to welcome Spring, it is advisable to treat these days like the days surrounding the vernal equinox and be prepared for anything.
Change From Julian to Gregorian Calendar. Retrieved from https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/julian-gregorian-switch.html.
Cohen, Jennie. (2012, September 13). 6 Things You May Not Know About the Gregorian Calendar. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/6-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-gregorian-calendar.
The Difference Between Julian and Gregorian Calendars. Retrieved from http://vpcalendar.net/Difference-Between-Julian-and-Gregorian-Calendars.html.
(2012). New Year’s. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years.
https://www.newhistorian.com/origin-of-april-fools-day/3399/.Origin of April Fools’ Day.
“Why is April 1 a day to celebrate foolishness?” 30 March 2001.
HowStuffWorks.com. <https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-other/question604.htm> 1 April 2018
Mann, S. (2016, September 1). What Is a Papal Bull? Retrieved from https://www.osv.com/Magazines/TheCatholicAnswer/Article/TabId/652/ArtMID/13618/ArticleID/20552/What-Is-a-Papal-Bull.aspx.
Staff, Findingdulcinea. “On This Day: In 1582, October 5 Never Happened.” FindingDulcinea. 1 Apr. 2018. Web. 1 Apr. 2018.
Spencer, Bill. (1999, November 28). Inter Gravissimas. Retrieved from http://www.bluewaterarts.com/calendar/NewInterGravissimas.htm.
Cavendish, Richard (2002, September). The Gregorian Calendar Adopted in England. Retrieved from https://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/gregorian-calendar-adopted-england.
April Fool’s Day in the 1600s. Retrieved from http://hoaxes.org/af_database/year/category/1600aprilfools/.
Kaplan, S. (2016, March 31). A brief, totally sincere history of April Fools’ Day. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/31/a-brief-totally-sincere-history-of-april-fools-day/?utm_term=.ab04201687ae.
Specktor, B. The Puzzling Mystery Behind How April Fool’s Day Got Started. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/culture/origin-of-april-fools-day/.
The Origin of April Fool’s Day. Retrieved from http://hoaxes.org/af_database/permalink/origin_of_april_fools_day.
April Fools’ Day. (n.d.) Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. (2010). Retrieved April 1 2018 from https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/April+Fools%27+Day.
David Johnson and Shmuel Ross “April Fools’ Day: Origin and History.” Infoplease.
© 2000-2017 Sandbox Networks, Inc., publishing as Infoplease.
1 Apr. 2018 <https://www.infoplease.com/calendar-holidays/major-holidays/april-fools-day-origin-and-history/>.
Hodgkin, R. ‘Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?’. Retrieved from https://doinghistoryinpublic.org/2017/04/04/whence-proceeds-the-custom-of-making-april-fools/.
The Official April Fool’s Day FAQ. Retrieved from http://hoaxes.org/aprilfool/faq.