Q: Dear Jack: I’m of the opinion that April Fool’s Day sucks. How and — more importantly — WHY did this bogus tradition start?
Amber Kueppers – Elk River, MN
A: First off, thanks for the question, Amber. We’ve never really encountered anyone with such a distain for April Fool’s Day before… we bet you’re really fun at parties.
Anywho, to answer your question, the custom of playing tricks on friends on April 1st is believed to have originated in France in the middle 1500s.
Before that time, one calendar was used throughout Europe. Under this calendar, each new year began on April 1st. On that day, people celebrated by exchanging gifts and visiting each other.
Then in 1564, King Charles IX of France adopted a new calendar and decreed that each new year was to begin on January 1st. However, while most people followed their king’s decree, there were some who did not like the idea of the change and refused to accept the new New Year’s Day.
These people soon became the butt of jokes and tricks by their friends and neighbors because they continued to observe April 1st as New Year’s Day.
These friends and neighbors sent mock gifts, invited these people to fake parties, and played tricks on them because they were “April Fools,” people who clung to their April New Year’s Day.
Delightful tradition, or annoyance? Guess that depends on which side of the joke you’re on.