Tam’s Tips: The Origins of April Fool’s Day

Tam’s Tips: The Origins of April Fool’s Day

April 1st is commonly a day for practical jokes, revealed with the shouting of a hearty, “April Fools!” But where did this tradition come from? And why am I discussing it on a Pagan forum? Well, the tradition is shrouded in some mystery. But it is celebrated by several cultures. And yes, there are even some Pagan roots!

Some say that this comes from France’s change over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian system. In the Julian calendar, the year would begin on April 1st, with the coming of the Spring Equinox. Now with the Gregorian calendar, the new year would begin on January 1st. Therefore anyone who hadn’t gotten the memo or who had simply refused to covert, were teased and heckled and referred to as “April Fools.” Some French people were even so mean to the “fools,” that they would stick paper fish on their backs to represent the young fish that were easy to catch in April due to their lack of experience. In other words, young fish and those out of the calendar change loop were equally lame and/or gullible. 

Others say that the holiday has American Pagan roots, with a belief of the change from the winter to the spring being a joke played by the Goddess on her children by giving them unpredictable weather patterns that would in the end provide new life and new crops. The ultimate “April Fools Uno Reverse” played by the Great Mother herself. 

And about the 18th century, the holiday moved through Britain and the UK. In fact in Scotland, it became a 2-day festival of chaos and pranks ranging from sending gullible people on hunts for birds that didn’t actually exist, to taping “kick me” signs on the butts of peers and enemies alike. 

In more modern times, April Fool’s Day has been celebrated the world over by children to the elderly. Even big corporations have jumped on the bandwagon, using the holiday as a marketing ploy. Anyone remember the 1996 Taco Liberty Bell? On April 1st that year, Taco Bell had paid for full page ads in the top seven U.S. newspapers claiming the company was going to reduce the nation’s debt by purchasing and renaming the Liberty Bell—then revealed that it was a hoax at noon.  

The goal nowadays is supposed to be good, lighthearted fun for a day in a world where life is hard enough the other 354 days of the year. But then you add in what I like to call, “The Human Factor,” and pranks can span from funny to Dude, you should have known better. Anyone ever rush to sit on a toilet seat on April 1st only to discover (too late) that the hole was covered in cling wrap? Try Googling “Worst April Fool’s Pranks” if you really want to see how bad, mean, stupid, or dangerous people can get. 

It’s not my place to tell you if you should celebrate this holiday or not. And if you do, it’s not my place to tell you how to celebrate. But I can AND do ask you to think fully before you act. All words have power, even in jest. And all actions have consequences, be they good, bad, or indifferent. Perhaps before pranking, you should consider “The Golden Rule” on April 1st : “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Or at least the Wiccan Rede’s “An ye harm none, do what ye wilt.” 

Hope your April 1st is filled with frivolity and joy and safe fun. And that now you have a little better understanding of the where and why this holiday exists. Don’t forget to visit the Discord, send me your questions, and tune into the next live for more tips and inspiration! 

Until next time, Bright Blessings!


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