Published on April 1st, 2019 | by Sam Rose
The Unknown History of April Fools Day
April Fools Day is known as the day we play fun pranks on friends and family – but how exactly did it begin? We’ve taken a look at some possible theories!
According to history, the UK has celebrated April the 1st as April Fools Day since as early as the 19th century.
Traditionally, it’s a day that friends, family and even workplace colleagues play harmless practical jokes on each other to celebrate the start of April.
And in recent years, even the media and businesses have gone all out to attempt pull the wool over our eyes, with some pranks remaining truly unforgettable.
It’s quite a surprise then, that nobody is entirely sure exactly how the April Fools Day tradition begun.
So we thought we’d look at some theories that have been passed around over the years – perhaps you can make your own mind up on how it begun!
April Fools Day Theory 1 – It Was Started by Poetry
One of the first April Fools Day theories we thought we would cover is that the day began due to the creation of a poem.
Many suggest that a poem written by the early English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century could be the reason why we celebrate April Fools Day every year.
The theme of the poem revolves around a fox, who plays a prank on a rooster which almost leads to the rooster being eaten, with the poem referring to the month of April.
But just as likely as this origin theory may be, there is nothing to suggest that the poem is directly mentioning the correct date for April Fools Day, April the 1st.
Chaucer mentions 32 days “syn March began” – a line which people have quickly concluded meant that he was referring to the 1st of April.
But just to add an extra twist to the tale, there are others who believe that the poem itself could be the epitome of an April Fools joke, with many of the lines within it being used to further poke fun at the reader by attempting to confuse them!
April Fools Day Theory 2 – It Was Started by Fishing in Europe
This is one of the more unusual theories behind the invention of April Fools Day but could perhaps make the most sense too!
To understand more about the significance of April the 1st in relation to April Fools Day, historians have uncovered records that suggests the link might come from a European tradition that soon spread to Britain also.
The tradition is said to have started in France and Holland during the 1500s and could be a result of the emergence of more fish appearing in French streams and rivers around the 1st of April (something that that the French thought was rather foolish!)
Therefore, the belief in this theory has led to some areas of Europe referring to April Fools Day as April Fish Day instead, in which it has become a common yearly tradition to attach a paper fish to someone’s back on the day and to also give Chocolate shaped fish as gifts too!
April Fools Day Theory 3 – It Was Started by Calendars
This final theory of how April Fools Day began revolves around the yearly calendar.
There are some that believe that the April Fools Day tradition was first marked in Roman times, albeit under a different name and at a different time in the year too.
It is thought that ‘renewal festivals’, something established in the Roman era, were used to mark the start of a new year or a new season in the year.
When a ‘renewal festival’ was reached, the Romans used it as an opportunity to turn things on their head a little. (it was known that situations such as servants controlling masters and children controlling their parents would occur on the day!)
So why was April Fools Day (then known as a ‘renewal festival’) held at the start of the year rather than at the very start of April?
Well, the second theory related to the yearly calendar is that people who continued to celebrate the ‘renewal festivals’ at the end of March/start of April rather than on the first day of the year (1st of January) were made fun of and branded as fools.
As a result, those around them would make sure that these fools would have all kinds of practical jokes played on them so that they would remember to celebrate the ‘renewal festival’ at the start of the year instead!
Laugh with Some Comedy Greats on April Fools Day
If you’re a fan of April Fools Day like most of the nation is (who doesn’t enjoy a fun harmless prank after all!), then why not take some time away from the shenanigans by sharing a few laughs with our Comedy Greats Collectibles?
Take your pick from two (or pick both!) finely crafted Comedy Greats First Day Covers featuring an assortment of classic comedians.
The Comedy Greats Stamps First Day Cover includes stamps of:
- Spike Milligan
- The Two Ronnies
- Billy Connolly
- Morecambe and Wise
- Norman Wisdom
Whilst the Comedy Greats 2 Stamps First Day Cover includes stamps of:
- Lenny Henry
- Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
- The Cast of Monty Python
- Victoria Wood
- Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders