first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364
days of the year."
~~ Mark Twain ~~
First off... there appears to be no one
singular origin to the widespread phenomenon of "April Fools
Day." April Fools Day has been celebrated and observed for
centuries in various countries and cultures, for different reasons,
all over the world. Only a fool would be bold enough to proclaim
that they know the one definitive answer to its origin. That's
because there is no one definitive answer to its origin. What
follows is only one of the origins, most related to Western astrology.
Vernal Equinox and Easter
To get started... many assume that January 1 has always been pretty
much the day set aside for celebrating the beginning of the new
year. Not so. From 14th to 16th century A.D., much of the Western
world celebrated the new year on one of two days. Folks either
celebrated the new year with a party that lasted from March 25
to April 1 - or they celebrated the coming of the new year on
Easter, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we
all know, the date for Easter varies from year to year. However,
during that period of time (using the "Julian Calendar"),
Easter normally occurred around the first part of the month in
April. April 1 in the "Julian Calendar" was likewise
approximately the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere
- as marked by the "vernal equinox." This is why, in
Western astrology, the Tropical Zodiac still begins it's yearly
cycle in the Zodiac sign of Aries, marked by the "vernal
equinox" and the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
In 1582 AD, Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new and improved calendar
for the "Christian world," and in this calendar (now
called the "Gregorian Calendar") the beginning of the
new year was changed and was now declared to fall on January 1
(more closely aligning the celebration of the new year with the
birth of Jesus Christ). Ten days were deleted from the calendar,
so that October 4, 1582 was followed by October 15, 1582. This
change caused the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring) of
1583, and all subsequent years, to occur about March 21. Some
years, such as the years 2000, 2001, and 2002, the first day of
Spring occurs on March 20.
April Fools and France
From 1363 AD on, France was one of those countries having the
tradition of celebrating the new year on Easter. The story goes
that in 1563 AD a young pompous King Charles IX (born 1550 AD–
died 1574 AD) declared to his subjects that heretofore New Year's
Day would be celebrated on January 1. (Notice this is prior to
the "Gregorian calendar" change and the pope's edict
in 1582 AD)
When this happened, there were some folks who apparently either
hadn't heard word of the king's edict or who had decided to stubbornly
"stick to their guns" and defy the young king's edict
- and, thus, they continued celebrating New Year's Day on Easter.
Remember now... that Easter normally occurred around the first
part of the month in April. These people, continuing to celebrate
New Year's Day on Easter, were given the moniker of being "April
Fools." It wasn't until 1567 AD that most of France finally
got with the king's program and began celebrating New Year's Day
on January 1. The French tradition of sending folks out on a "fool's
errand" then began with a vengeance.
Today, in France, April 1 is called "Poisson d'Avril."
The tradition is that French children fool their friends by taping
a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "April Fool"
discovers this trick, the trickster yells "Poisson d’Avril!"
(meaning: April Fish!) The origin of the "fish tradition"
is considered to be "unknown." However, it makes the
most sense that the origin behind the "fish tradition"
is that the Sun has now left winter and Pisces (the fishes) the
final Sign of the Zodiacal cycle and has now entered into the
new birth and new hope of springtime in the Zodiac Sign of Aries
Unknown - Forwarded to me in an email...