Been fooled yet?
We don’t mean over the course of your life — only a liar says they’ve never been taken — but specifically today. Check the calendar and resolve to be even more careful about what you see and hear.
April Fools’ Day, the annual anniversary celebrated by tricksters, pranksters and other perverse sorts, is nothing new and not unique to us, according to history.com but is “celebrated,” for lack of a better term, by many different cultures.
If you’re one who hates surprise parties, or surprises of any fashion, be on your guard.
According to several sources, the Fools’ Day has to do with the calendar, going back to the late 16th century when France shelved the Julian calendar — with the New Year beginning with the spring equinox around April 1 — and went Gregorian. They called the Julian calendar “the Hindu calendar.” (No fooling.)
Still with us?
Seems the folks who didn’t get the news in a timely fashion, or thought it was misinformation, still went full-out New Year’s partying in late March/early April. Those in the know called these deluded people “April Fools,” of course, and proceeded to dupe them into all kinds of embarrassing situations, playing them for … you know.
One way to mark a fool was to do the elementary schoolboy’s favorite move of surreptitiously putting something on a classmate’s back. The French liked a paper cutout of a fish to put on a person’s back, marking them as one who always takes the bait.
This grim tradition was carried on by the Scots, who on this day would “hunt the gowk,” (don’t ask) and then have some seriously cheap laughs pinning that fish cutout, or maybe a donkey’s tail, on someone’s backside.
But there’s an older version of why we send someone out to buy a left-handed catcher’s mask. Some historians, with little else to do, have speculated that April Fools’ Day goes back to the Roman festival of Hilaria (no translation needed) held around this time, dedicated to getting your freak on in public in especially weird clothes, mocking public officials, and generally getting in touch with your mayhem side.
One of the most memorable April Fools’ Day pranks was in 1985, when the April 1 edition of Sports Illustrated had a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek story on a Mets rookie named Sidd Finch who could throw a baseball 168 mph. Mets fans believed every word (please, spare us your pity) but could take solace in that they were not the only ones who began to dream impossible dreams.
Watch how you go today. Have fun. Happy April 1.