By Melissa Wynn

We all know that April 1st is the day set aside for Tom foolery and practical jokes but this fun filled holiday itself may be the best joke of all. I intended to tell the historic origins of April Fools Day, instead I found myself giggling about the fact that no one really seems to know. Ironic, no?  There is a theory that the naughtiness began in 1582 Rome when the Gregorian Calendar we use today replaced the old Julian Calendar. The old calendar began each new year on or near April 1st and the new called for that to change to January 1st.  Some people refused to observe the change and continued to celebrate their New Year on April 1st. Those ready to roll with the changes began to make fun of the traditionalists by sending them on “fool’s errands”  and tricking them into believing harmless falsehoods. The fun has been spreading ever since. Many dispute this theory saying that the Gregorian Calendar wasn’t adopted in England until 1752 but April 1st mischief was practiced there long before the calendar change. HMMMM.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day came from Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman Emperor that they could do a better job of running his empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event. “In a way,” explained Prof. Boskin, “it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor.” This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

So I guess we may never know how the whole thing got started.  I’m just glad that it did. Everyone can use a good laugh at someone else’s expense and blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we never fail to be amused.

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