Breaking news: Linus Torvalds, (a competitor of Microsoft) has decided to join hands with Microsoft! Alien spacecraft lands at Siberia. Scientists are rushing from across the world to investigate it!
What is your reaction on reading these statements? Disbelief? Taken aback? Yes, this is exactly what people may want you to do on this day — take you for a ride! It is April First or Fool’s Day!
Most people are fooled when they hear some such unsuspecting news! And that is where the fun begins! Why do people play pranks on this day? It has something to do with the New Year. No, no I am not pulling your leg. Its true! Read on. . .
As per the Roman calendar, March 25 was the first day of the spring equinox. This day was therefore, celebrated as new years day. With the spread of Christianity, the day clashed with Easter festivities and new year’s day was shifted to April 1. However, the calendar was not exactly accurate and each year a day had to be adjusted to suit the change in seasons.
In 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar taking into account this extra day. This became the leap year. In the new calendar, new year fell on January first. King Charles IX of France decided to adopt this new calendar and decreed that new year will begin from January 1 and not April 1.
The change took some time to be implemented as people were not ready to adjust while others were ignorant of this change! These people continued to celebrate the new year on April first.
Since new year was a time of exchanging gifts, those who adopted this new change, gave mock gifts to others who were still celebrating new year on April 1 and called them ‘April Fools’. The idea spread and people tried to convince innocent and unsuspecting people that something false or impossible to happen was true!
In France, pranksters secretly taped a paper fish on people’s back and cried ‘Poisson d’Avril’ or ‘April Fish’ when the prank was discovered. The custom made its way to England and later Scotland.
In Scotland the favourite practical joke was to send someone on a cuckoo hunt. The festival came to be called April Gawk day as the word ‘gowk’ comes from the Scottish word ‘geck’, which means ‘someone who is easily imposed upon’.
Many practical jokes are played on unsuspecting people on this day. We should understand though that this should be played in the spirit of fun and not in a spirit of meanness.