The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

April Fools Day

Category: Customs + Festivals

Funnily enough, April Fool’s Day is linked with the whole marvellous business of spring, the Vernal Equinox and the return of the sun and warmth.

In Scotland an old name for April Fool is Aprjl-gowk or -cuckoo. For some reason the cuckoo is a symbol for daftness.

The return of the cuckoo and the arrival of spring is connected with all this fooling. In Cheshire some little time ago the first half of the day until noon was April Fool’s time.

Then at 12 o’clock started “legging-over time’’. The object was to trip people up. Whatever the origin was it certainly gave the slower ones the chance to get their own back on the quickwitted ones who had “fooled’’ them earlier on.

In the newspapers of 1860, there can be found the classical story of an April 1 hoax involving a vast number of people. A few days before April Fools’ Day they received through the post a card having every appearance of an official communication, bearing the following inscription: “Tower of London* — Admit Bearer and Friend to view the Annual Ceremony of Washing the White Lions, on Sunday, April 1, 1860. Admittance only at the White Gate. It is particularly requested that no gratuities be given to the Warders or their Assistants.”’ |

Some time ago a well-known T. V. commentator, whose smooth voice accompanied all important events, introduced a brief documentary film about spaghetti. He gave a vivid description of the harvest in the spaghetti fields in Italy, with statistics of the previous year’s crop, andthere, before their very eyes, the viewing public saw Italian farmworkers picking long strands of spaghetti off trees. Many of the viewers were completely taken in.

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