…except this. Possibly.
The admonition “Don’t believe anything you read on the internet today” could well be true any day of the year, but no more so than today, April 1st. April Fool’s Day. Anyone been pranked yet? Me neither. But I’m afraid to leave the house. And since I’m shuttered inside with the shades drawn (and the shotgun handy…just in case) I have some time to ponder what started this whole April Fool’s Day thing.
What I found was an article that I’m relatively certain is not an elaborate April Fool’s prank in itself. Though it is at a site called Hoaxes.org. Hmmm…I’m suspicious already.
Wait! What was that noise? **picks up shotgun, chambers a round**
OK…false alarm. Where were we? Oh yeah…Hoaxes.org. Seems legit, so here goes.
The Origin of April Fool’s Day is a compilation of theories on the origin of pranking April 1st. Going back as far as the 15th and 16th centuries, we find that in Europe there was wide inconsistency in how the calendar was observed. Even though Julius Ceasar had invented the Julian Calendar in the 1st Century A.D. local jurisdictions pretty much decided on their own when to observe certain dates. In the 16th Century, leaders (Kings, Popes, etc) began trying to reform the calendar and make things consistent. This reformation did not take place overnight, but spanned almost a century. One of the changes made was a universal decree that January 1st was to be the beginning of the year. Since some locales had been starting their year at Eastertime, often around April 1st, this could possibly have imparted an aura of confusion on the date April 1, or led to a person who believed the new year started on April 1 being dubbed an “April Fool”.
My take: plausible.
There are also several paragraphs devoted to searching for early references to April Fool’s Day in literature. Of course, some alleged references are vague, but there seems to be a fairly straighforward one in a 1561 poem by the Flemish writer Eduard De Dene about a nobleman who plays tricks on his servant by sending him to do silly errands on April 1st. This checks off the boxes for both “April (1st) Fool’s Day” and the term “Fool’s Errand”. So, most likely the custom had been established by the mid 16th Century.
So whether your filling your boss’s car with ping pong balls,
redirecting your friend’s Facebook page to a midget porn site,
or just faking your own (or someone else’s) death,
you can be assured you are partaking in a long and well established tradition. And…if you’re wondering who it was who glued your coffee cup to your desk? It wasn’t me. I told you – I haven’t left the house all day.