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  • Writer's pictureEmily Taylor

The true, factual history of April Fool's Day!


April Fool’s Day! The day where you check every seat before you sit down and tighten the lid on the salt shaker. While most people know not to trust what anyone says on this day, many don’t know WHY this day came to be. I didn’t, and I was curious, so I do what I tend to do. I sat down and dug in for research! And, you will not believe the history that I found!


This tradition dates back centuries, to even before the British involved themselves in Ireland, when it was just a mish-mash of clans competing over territory. And that is where some historians believe April Fool’s began. In a strange twist on the Grasshopper and the Ant fable, the story tells of Clan chieftain Brian Na Carnihann riding around to visit his people and, since it was spring, see how their planting was going.


One fellow in particular lied repeatedly to the chieftain about what he had planted and how much he had planted, and come the end of the year, those lies were revealed. Needless to say, since it’s an Irish story, despite the humor, it doesn’t end well. The moral of the story ends up being: “Don’t lie about stupid shit or everyone dies.” But, because of the timing of when the story starts, early planting season, a day was set aside for lies and mischief in memory of the “Fool” who lied to the chieftain. The superstition was that in doing so, you rid yourselves of the Fair Folk who were likely to harm you and that protected the crops and increased the harvest.



And, of course, the Irish spread that superstition world wide. According to Dr. J. Everett Cooney in his book: “The History of The Fool”, “By the 1920’s, every country that had been touched by the Irish Diaspora had adopted some form of the Fool’s holiday, often incorporating their own historic “Fool” mythologies.” And it never ceases to amaze me how entrenched some of those superstitions still are. There are small areas in Europe, in fact, where you aren’t allowed to say anything truthful on April first, or you’ll be cursed to have the opposite happen.


And they obviously took hold here in America. While we don’t approach it as religiously as some other countries, America still takes part in the Fool’s Day traditions. We tell tall tales, we do silly things, and, I suspect, we approach it as a relief from the dark days of Winter. It’s jocular relief. That’s not to say religion doesn’t play into in, especially in America. The Big Band trio, The Chester Sisters hinted at that in their hit dance hall song “O me, O you, O Fool!”


“The little man

He does whatever he can

But he can’t get away

From the ruddy, red man.”


I feel like we all know who the “ruddy red man” probably represents.


So, after all of this, and a deep dive into the history of April Fool’s, I hope you’ve found it interesting, if not educational! But, this is the point in the article where I inform you that my sources, each and every one of them, do not exist. I made everything up, from the Irish history to the Big Band song. Why? Because it is April Fool’s day! I may not know anything about the history of today, but I’m not above partaking in a bit of harmless mischief! Thanks for reading, and may all your jokes be funny.

 

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