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April Fools’ Day

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The history of April Fools’ Day is murky, but most experts agree the origins date back to 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in 1582, and New Year’s Day was officially moved from April 1st to January 1st. People who were slow to make the switch were often called “fools” by the general populace, and were sent on “fools” errands. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish.” A common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke. It has evolved over the centuries into a day full of (hopefully) harmless pranks, with its own unofficial rules. Most versions of the rules say pranks must end at noon on April 1st, and any person playing a prank after that brings bad luck on themselves. Here are some other fun and interesting April Fools’ Day facts:

•The Scottish love April Fools’ Day so much they celebrate it for two days. In Scotland they call it “hunting the gowk” (the cuckoo), and if you are tricked you’re an “April gowk.” To really get “behind” the holiday, the second day, called “Taily Day,” is devoted to pranks involving the back side of the body. The “butt” of these jokes may often have a “kick me” sign placed on their back.

•In Portugal, April Fools’ Day is actually celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before Lent. The big trick there? Throwing flour at your friend’s face.

•In Poland everyone takes part in April Fools’ Day activities, including the media and sometimes public institutions. All serious activities are completely avoided for the day. A favorite joke is pouring water on people.

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