All Fools’ Day falls on the first day of April. Today, we more commonly know this day as “April Fools’ Day”. Now, just like many holidays, April Fools’ Day has it’s own unique traditions that many people across the country continue to take part in.
April Fools’ Day is celebrated by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes, then exclaiming “April Fools” once the joke or hoax has worked. Thus, the victims of the humour have become the April Fools themselves.
Here is an example of an old April Fools’ joke from 1954. This is a picture of City Hall in Calgary from 1954, however it appears that the top is in the process of being completely removed! So, as you can imagine, this stirred up quite a bit of confusion and shock when, on April Fools’ in 1954, Jim Parker waltzed into City Hall and offered this image for publication. It involved everyone rushing onto the street to have a look for themselves, only to realize that they were the April Fools.
This is another example of an April Fools’ prank from 1979. This photo was published in the ‘Toronto Star’ newspaper on the front page. It features King Kong hanging from the top of the CN Tower, which, at the time, was in the process of being completed. Further, the newspaper claimed that Carmen Nigro, who played King Kong in the 1933 film was inside the costume atop the CN Tower as well!
Finally, here is a humorous and interesting example of a more recent April Fools’ joke. This is an image from April Fools’ Day 2011, which happened to fall during a federal election. Reporters tracking NDP Leader, Jack Layton, knew Mr. Layton could take a joke, so were planning to give him just that. CBC’s Rosemary Barton cut up paper moustaches, in reference to Mr. Layton’s own moustache, and distributed them to journalists, before a news conference with Mr. Layton himself. In this image, you can see the journalists struggling to keep straight faces while questioning the NDP Leader.
While April Fools’ Day is well known, its exact origins are unknown. The most plausible explanation we have so far relates to the movement of New Year’s Day. Ancient cultures had originally celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1st, as it soon followed the vernal equinox. So, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Gregorian Calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar, New Year’s Day made the jump from April 1st to January 1st. However, those who were unaware of the change, or refused to accept it, continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st. Thus, other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something else false. In the end, the practice had eventually spread throughout Europe, and to North America today.