Why is April Fools Day celebrated?

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It is yet again that time of the year when Jokes, hoax, harmless pranks, foolish fun will be taken with zero guilt. The April fools day is known to have originated in Europe but in no way has its observance been limited to the Western world. In the highly connected globalised world order that we live in, the dedication of April 1 as a day for fools, has been a rather contagious (and even contentious) affair.

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One of the earliest and first recorded instance of April 1 as fool’s day was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. According to reports, New Year’s Day would be celebrated around April. In 1582, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII which made celebrated January 1 as the New Year’s Day. However, many refused to accept it and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day in April. Others started mocking those refusing to accept January 1 as New Year’s Day and would send them on “fool’s errands”, which is how, the practice of April Fools’ day caught on.

In ancient Rome a festival called ‘Hilaria’ was celebrated on the last week of March, as the day on which God Attis was resurrected. Similarly in India Holi is celebrated during the same time of the year as an occasion for playful jubilation by spraying colours on each other. Perhaps we can find the origins of April fools day in the overall atmosphere of merrymaking that has been observed world over for centuries during the time of the year when winter gives way to spring.

In India, there have been numerous references to April Fools’ Day in cinema and popular literature and people look for ways and pranks to fool their friends, colleagues and neighbours. Once the target victim falls for the prank, the prankster shouts out loud “April fool”! Once caught in the trap, the person earns the ‘fool’s tag’, the one he/she cannot proudly flaunt! One of the most popular sons on April Fool’s Day is Mohammed Rafi’s ‘April fool banaya toh unko gussa aaya’! As you croon it, plan your pranks, but ensure they are harmless and a caution – beware!

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