Do you know why we call April 1st April Fools Day? I didn't, so I did a little research. Here's the scoop:
Although people aren't entirely certain about the origin of April Fools Day, the popular explanation has to do with Charles IX of France around 1582. He introduced a new calendar, called the Gregorian Calendar, which set New Year's Day as January 1st.
Prior to that, the new year was celebrated for an entire week, ending on April 1st. Many people didn't make the change right away, either because the news didn't reach them for a few years (no internet to instantly spread the news), or because they were stubborn and didn't want to change.
Those who still celebrated the new year in April were called "April fools," and became the butt of ridicule and practical jokes. The were also called April fish (poisson d'avril), because young (and dumb) fish get caught easily. One typical joke was to attach a paper fish to someone's back–like the "kick me" signs of more recent times. By the 1700's, the tradition of playing practical jokes on April 1st had spread to Britain, Scotland, and the American colonies. It is now found throughout the globe.
April Fools jokes have become quite elaborate at times, perpetrated by some unexpected entities. Here is an example, from the Top One Hundred April Fools Day Hoaxes of All time (Museum of Hoaxes):
"Instant Color TV 1962: In 1962 there was only one tv channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their tv screen. Stensson proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in. Regular color broadcasts only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970."
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for April Fools Day? Do you need to watch your back for that pesky practical joker that you know will be on his (or her) game on Friday? Hmmmm. Might be a good day to stay home and stamp!
aka The Mad Stamper