In the midst of this most unsettling and strange time, a ray of hope has arrived in the form of a new month – and this new month starts with one of the best days of all: April Fool’s Day. If you’re anything like us, you’ve already annoyed your family with salt in their tea instead of sugar or cling-filming the loo seat (it’s hard to make up new pranks when confined to the house!), but have you ever wondered why today of all days is dedicated to light-hearted pranks?
Well, wonder no more!
Some people think it originated from back in 1582 when the the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian one (the one we follow in the UK today). It’s said that people who were slow on the uptake became known as “April Fools” as they were still celebrating new year at the wrong time (March into April, rather than December into January).
Other historians liken April Fool’s Day to the ancient Rome celebration of Hilaria at the end of March in which people used to dress up to mock magistrates and other citizens. Certinaly there seems to be some logic here, though the time of year is in question due to the above calendar changes.
There is also a school of thought that it relates to mother nature’s ongoing prank at this time of year with her unpredictable weather; the Vernal Equinox (or first day of spring) usually indicates the start of warmer, sunnier weather, but mother nature sends a prank our way with rain and wind.
April Fools really started to pick up popularity in the UK in the 18th Century, with Scotland making it a 2-day event filled with jokes and pranks. No-one could be trusted! In modern-day Britain, it’s become quite a tradition for UK media outlets like the BBC or national newspapers to play pranks on us, like the unforgettable 1957 Italian spaghetti harvest or the British Army’s “urban camouflage” being issued in 2017.
In the modern world of “fake news”, pranks today may be tricky to spot but do let us know about the best ones you find! It’s a bit of an anxious time for everyone at the moment, so this light-hearted relief is definitely something to be shared.
Stay safe, stay home if you can, and remember: wash your hands!