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April Fool's Day

Don't be fooled by practical jokes and pranks.

April 1 is known as April Fool's Day by people all around the world. It is the day for pulling pranks, gags, and practical jokes. April Fool's Day is especially fun for children, but many grownups get involved, too. Husbands and wives play pranks on each other and office workers play pactical jokes in the work place.

What happens on April Fool's Day? One person tries to get another person to do something that is not practical. You may be sent on what is called a "fool's errand" to get something that doesn't exist, or you may be asked a question that has a foolish answer. You may be asked to do something that has no real purpose and it makes you feel self conscious or silly.

Although April Fool's Day has been celebrated on the first day of April for many years, practical jokes and pranks have been played on different days of the year in other countries. In years past, many Spanish speaking countries held the Medieval Festival of Fools and Holy Innocents' Day, both on December 28. The Roman festival of Hilaria was held on March 25.

April Fool's Day has also been known by other names such as the "Hilaria Festival" of ancient Rome, "April Noddy Day," "Huntigowk Day," St. All-Fools' Morn," "Gowkie Day," "All Fool's Day," the "Holi Festival" of India, and "Fooling the April Fish Day" in France.

No one is for certain when or where April Fool's Day began but stories about it go back thousands of years. One story is that April Fool's Day started with the biblical Noah who mistakenly sent a dove out to find dry land after the flood.

Another popular story has it that April Fool's Day began in the 1500's when France changed its calendar so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of beginning at the start of spring in early April. Since word of the change traveled slowly, many people in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year around the first of April. As a consequense, they became known as "April Fools."

Then there is the story that King Constantine turned over the reins of the Roman Empire to his court jester for one day. In his official capacity, the jester decreed that April 1 would forever be a day of jokes and pranks. No one knows if this is fact or fiction so it could be another April Fool's Day hoax.

If you fall for disconcerting news or a practical joke on April 1, you are considered, by the person or persons playing the prank, an April fool. It may be a simple practical joke or it may be an elaborate hoax. It depends on who is doing the prank and what it is they want to accomplish.

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