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Origin Story: Who Celebrated the First April Fool’s Day?

Team StoryWeavers|March 31, 2022, 11:37 IST| 15

Animated image of a jack in the box, coming out with the sign 'April Foool's!"


It’s time to let your inner prankster out because it’s April Fool’s Day!

As you ready your fake lizards and cockroaches and wonder how angry your family would be if you pranked them first thing in the morning, think of this: where did April Fool’s Day come from? Who played the first prank? And why do we all, across the world, have only one day to fool around?

This is the origin story of the day of fools.

Mixed origins

There are multiple origin stories for April Fool’s Day as nobody really knows who came up with the concept first. One of the oldest recorded ‘All Fool’s Day’ is during Roman times. The Romans celebrated a harvest festival around the end of March and the beginning of April called Hilaria. It was celebrated on the vernal equinox, which marks the beginning of spring/summer, and Romans would dress up in funny costumes and attend masquerade balls.

Some say it originated in France in 1564, with the Edict of Roussillon. The decree stated that the first day of a new year would henceforth be January 1 and not Easter day, which would be considered the new year by Christians. The people who still observed the new year on Easter after the decree would be called ‘April Fools’ for clinging on to old customs.

Others believe that the idea of April Fool’s Day originated from famous writer Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written in 1392. In the ‘Nun’s Priest’s Tale’, Chaucer describes how a rooster is tricked by a fox, 32 days after March, which lands on April 1 in the Roman calendar. Did you know, the names of the months in the modern day calendar traces its roots back to Roman times?

International customs

We may not know exactly where and when April Fool’s Day originated, but what we do know is that each country and culture celebrates it in its own, unique way. For example, in France, it was common for children to stick fish made out of paper on the backs of other people, or even put them down their shirts – the tradition was called ‘Poisson d’Avril’ (Fish of April).

In Scotland, the day is celebrated as ‘Gowk Day’. Gowk is the Scottish term for cuckoo, which is a symbol of foolishness, and people often prank each other by attaching papers on the backs of their friends with the words ‘kick me’ written on them. In Britain, it is the norm for pranks to be played until noon, after which anyone playing a prank would be called an ‘April fool’.

In other European countries, media channels often run a fake story as a prank on their viewers.

What’s your favourite prank? Let us know in the comments.

Read more Origin Stories here: 

Origin story: The History and Evolution of Traffic Lights

Origin Story: Who Invented Money?

Origin Story: Why Do We Say Hello When Answering the Phone?

About the Author

Madhavi is passionate about everything to do with books, art, literature, films, trivia and food. A former journalist, she believes that asking questions makes life interesting.

Leave a Comment




March 31, 2022

Thanks a lot byjus team for giving us such great information It’s help me to giving a speech on April fool day
Thanks a lot
Byjus team


March 31, 2022

Thanks for this type of knowledge

Mohammed Yusuf Sharif

March 31, 2022

The information was really good.

Swati Singh

March 31, 2022

I have never thought that why this April fool is celebrated and today after receiving this amazing segment I became curious to know. It was amazing to know abut April fool’s origin . So know I would like to share my favourite prank which is applying toothpaste on oreo biscuits instead of cream!

Utsa Barai

April 1, 2022

I’m going to prank my friends by telling I have cut my hand by making a fake bandage 🤕🤭

Sona thakur

April 1, 2022

My favourite prank is scaring every one with a fake snail 🤣🤣🤣

Janhavi Nikam

April 1, 2022

It was really helpful and interesting to know about April fool’s day


April 1, 2022

I like Scottland’s April fool .


April 1, 2022

I really like the concept of April fool 😂 however I’m the one who always gets fooled 🤣

Janhavi Nikam

April 1, 2022

My favorite prank since my child hood is to bring rubber lizards or cockroaches and throw it on my friend’s and elders and Happy April fool’s day or say Ullu banaya Bada Maja aaya .

Aksharaasree Raviram

April 1, 2022

Interesting edition

Shakir mushtaq

April 1, 2022

My favourite prank:-
Telling my friend’s it is my last day in school

Madhu Kumari sonu

April 1, 2022

I love the way how April fool day celebrate in Scotland 👏

Atreyi ghosh

April 2, 2022

So my favourite prank is …. I would say something like you have a white hair then they would see in their hair if they had any .. Ha ha ha its so funny i think that


April 3, 2022

My favourite prank is putting a turning pipe to the basin tap and anyone who switches on the tap would be completely wet


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