Sunday, May 28, 2023


C’mon—Be a little foolish today!

My dad had a great sense of humor. He delighted in telling his three daughters that he proposed to Mom on April Fools’ Day. Predictably, Mom would roll her eyes, smile, and say, “The joke’s on you. I said ‘yes’.” Thinking back on that tidbit of my family history, I began to wonder how it happened. How did April Fools’ Day begin?

April Fools’ Day: A special day

April Fools’ Day is also called All Fools’ Day. It’s celebrated on the first day of April each year. On this day, it’s common to play tricks on others—generally, silly “made you look” statements that often garner a laugh or two.

I enjoyed playing tricks on my own children in honor of this special day. One year, I made what looked like a decorated, frosted cake. It was actually a meatloaf “frosted” with whipped potatoes and decorated with veggie bits. It looked pretty realistic from a distance. (The children were not impressed. They wanted cake!)

My husband recalls when his junior high shop teacher sent him to the office to get the “board stretcher.” Some of the tricks and jokes played in honor of this day are quite clever!

Origin theories

Perhaps the biggest April Fools’ Day joke of all is that no one really knows for certain how All Fools’ Day began. There are some theories, however.

Vernal equinox. Some believe that April Fools’ Day originated in conjunction with the spring equinox on March 21. This, the shortest day of the year, often ushered in abrupt changes in the weather, which often surprised or fooled people. (I’ll admit, I’ve been fooled into thinking that spring has arrived. The joke’s on me when I need to shovel eight inches of snow off the driveway!)

King’s edict. Another theory about the origin of All Fools’ Day comes from a decree issued by King Charles IX of France. The King’s law stated that the new calendar year would begin on January 1 rather than on Easter, a date that changed from year to year. Folks who refused to adopt this calendar change were called “April Fools.”

Fools celebrated

Regardless of how it began, April Fools’ Day has been celebrated throughout the world for centuries. Here are a few examples.

  • 1561. Eduard de Dene, a Flemish poet, wrote about a nobleman who sent his servant on several ridiculous errands. Soon the servant realized that it was April 1, and he’d been tricked!
  • Poor Robin’s Almanac. In 1760, these words were penned: “The First of April some do say. Is set apart for all Fool’s Day. But why the people call it so. Nor I nor they themselves do know.”
  • 1905. A newspaper in Germany spoofed its readers with a story about ingenious thieves who took $268 million in gold and silver from the U.S. Treasury. How? By digging a tunnel under the building.
  • 1957. The BBC aired a “live report.” Viewers witnessed Swiss farmers picking spaghetti off trees and bushes. The report praised the “exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop.” (Video below.)
  • “Talk of the Nation.” In 1992, Rich Little played Richard Nixon in a spoof interview. In it, “Nixon” announced he planned to campaign once more for president. His slogan? “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.”

Have you ever been fooled on All Fools’ Day? Or have you pranked anyone in celebration of April 1? Tell us in the comments, please.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Lou King
1 month ago

“Vernal equinox. …spring equinox on March 21. This, the shortest day of the year,” No the vernal equinox is not the shortest day of the year. The EQUInox is when the day and night are equal. The shortest day is the winter solstice occurs annually on December 21 or 22.

Charlie Sullivan
1 month ago
Reply to  Lou King

April Fools!

Roy Ellithorpe
1 month ago

I was hoping that the writer didn’t really think that Mar 21 wasn’t the shortest day of the year. I’m not sure if I was April fooled or not.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

Oh Gail..The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are when the days and nights are equal length. Winter Solstice is when the day is shortest, and summer solstice is when the day is longest

Bob Weinfurt
1 month ago

Actually, the equinox is when the sun is directly over the equator. Both hemispheres have slightly more daytime than nighttime.

1 month ago

We met on April Fools Day early in the evening. Got married at 6:00 six years later on April Fools Day. Today we celebrate that 17/23 years together. We’re going to the same restaurant where we had our first date to celebrate.

1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Congratulations! Enjoy your day together.

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