April’s Foolology.

April Fools’ Day, a day of lament for the pranksters; a day when citizens of various countries get the chance to be a kid again. A day loathed by its victim and lauded by its culprits. Office spaces become post adolescent playgrounds and college dorm rooms become 12 x 9 booby traps.

But while you’re laughing at your friend writhing in pain from an unexpected crotch shot delivered by some mischievous makeshift contraption of your making, do you stop to think exactly how your gut busting amusement was brought about?

Of course not, me neither. So I decide to go searching for the origin of our beloved April Fools’ Day.

Misinterpretation…

The holiday was birthed through a mix-up. In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Chaucer probably meant 32 days after March, i.e. May 2, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. However, readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32,” i.e April 1. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecler is tricked by a fox.

 

Various Mentionings…

In 1508, a French poet referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed.” The name “April Fools” echoes that of the Feast of Fools, a Medieval holiday held on December 28.

I will now leave you with the “Funniest Prank in History”:

i.

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