April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day: How Did It Start?
April Fools’ Day is full of pranks, but where did the impish holiday originate? Almost everyone has fallen victim to an April Fools’ Day joke. But why does this tomfoolery take place every year on April 1st? The origin of the holiday is a bit tricky. Some historians trace back the impish tradition to Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” in 1392. One of them, called “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” is a mock-heroic that emphasizes foolishness.
The tale is set on “March 32nd,” which could be a playful way of referring to April 1st, thus marking a day to make someone feel like a nitwit. Other scholars think this may have been a misprint and Chaucer simply meant the end of March. A few historians think it dates back to the late 1500s when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.
The Julian calendar was the prominent calendar used by most of the world until the Gregorian calendar overtook it to become the standard. April Fools’ Day - or All Fools’ Day as it was more commonly referred to back then – was reportedly a time to mock those who were a little slow to adapt to the calendar change. The start of the year in the newly adopted Gregorian calendar now fell on January 1st, but the Julian calendar had it falling on the last week of March and ending on April 1st. Those who were ridiculed for not knowing about the change were viewed as fools. But that’s just one theory behind the gimmicky day.
Another is that it falls near the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, which statistically has unpredictable weather, thus making many people look foolishly unprepared. Even though the origins of the holiday are a bit elusive, it’s still a lighthearted time to plot a clever ruse against your friends or family.
Ways to Celebrate
Here are a few family-friendly ways to celebrate this zany holiday and get a good laugh out of your loved ones:
Cake for Dinner
Make meatloaf in a round cake pan. Cover entirely with mashed potatoes, like you're icing a cake. Write "April Fools' Day" on top with ketchup. You can also prepare the "cake" by forming cupcakes with mashed potatoes piped on as "icing". Your family will be shocked when they first think they're about to have cake for dinner!
Use a cotton swab to gently dab gel food coloring around the edge of a kitchen or bathroom faucet spout, directly where the water comes out. When the next person turns on the faucet, they will be met with colorful surprise!
For the couch potatoes in your household:
Take the TV remote with you to another room while your kids are watching TV. Change the channel or mute the volume at random. They'll be in disbelief!
Take out the batteries from your TV remote. For added fun, leave the TV on mom or dad's favorite channel before taking out the batteries. The next person that tries to change the channel will have a little difficulty!
Is someone in your family easily spooked by spiders? This simple toilet paper trick will undoubtedly get a reaction. Just unroll the toilet paper a little and draw a spider (or other bug of your choosing) directly on the paper a few sheets in. Then, roll it back up and wait for the priceless reactions.
Swap Dad’s socks with your daughter’s socks. Replace your youngest son’s t-shirts with his brother’s.
Stuff wadded tissues or socks into the toe of your child’s sneakers. Be ready to help when they find that their shoes don’t fit.
Do the kids eat cereal for breakfast? Surprise them by exchanging the bags inside the boxes. They may think they're pouring Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but will get Grape Nuts instead. For extra fun, add a drop of food coloring to the milk.
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