Gregorian calendar leads to day of pranks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 April, 2009, 12:00am

April Fools' Day, also known as All Fools' Day, is a funny kind of tradition widely celebrated on April 1. Tall tales are told, practical jokes are played, and it all ends in a giggling 'April foooool' cackled at the prank victim's face.

Legend has it that April Fools' Day began around 1582 in 16th century France, when the calendar was changed under King Henry III , by order of Pope Gregory XIII, the worldwide head of the Catholic Church. The new Gregorian calendar, which most of us still use today, held that New Year's Day should fall on January 1. Until then, it had always fallen on the week of March 25 to April 1.

The story follows that many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. They were branded fools for not conforming to the new rules, and they were mocked, tricked and teased.

Eventually, the practice spread beyond Europe. As with all folklore, it transformed over time. Today, there are parts of the world where the joke-making should only last until noon, anything after that is considered bad luck. Elsewhere, the custom is to stick paper-cut fish on someone's back, because 'a na?ve fish is easily caught'. But all in good spirits.

Wherever you are, keep your wits about you, because April 1 is the day you get to fool, but will get fooled too.

Can you spot the fool's story today? Write in and tell us.


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