Experts shed light on origins of April Fools’ Day

March 30th, 2008 - 11:34 am ICT by admin  

National Geographic

Washington, Mar 30 (ANI): For an average person, April Fools’ Day might be a date to play pranks, but for some experts the day has more to it than just the fun element.

April Fools’ Day is believed to be several hundred years old. However, experts say that its origins are still shrouded in mystery.

According to the most popular theory, France changed its calendar in the 1500s so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of the start of spring in late March or early April.

However word of the change traveled slowly, and many people in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring.

These country dwellers became known as April fools.

Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego, California
Boese, who has studied the holiday’s origin, however, disagrees with this interpretation.

“[The French] theory is completely wrong, because the day that the French celebrated the beginning of the year legally was Easter day, so it never really was associated with April first,” National Geographic quoted him, as saying.

“Traditionally it was only a legal start to the yearpeople in France did actually celebrate [the New Year] on January first for as long as anybody could remember, he added.

Instead, Boese believes that April Fools’ Day simply grew out of age-old European spring festivals of renewal, in which pranks and camouflaging one’s identity are common.

Joseph Boskin, professor emeritus of American humor at Boston University, has offered his own interpretation of the holiday’s roots as a prank.

In 1983, Boskin said that the April Fools Day idea came from Roman jesters during the time of Constantine I in the third and fourth centuries A.D. As the story goes, jesters successfully petitioned the ruler to allow one of their elected members to be king for a day.

So, on April first, Constantine handed over the reins of the Roman Empire for one day to King Kugel, his jester. Kugel decreed that the day forever would be a day of absurdity. Incidentally, Kugel is an Eastern European dish that one of Boskin’s friends had been craving. (ANI)

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