By Arsh Behal
April Fools’ Day is here and so are the meticulously devised hoaxes and practical pranks at unknown strangers, at your favourite disliked neighbour or at your ex and as much as at your loved ones, because the concept of April Fool’s Day is critical to the rampant distribution of japes and witticism. Celebrated on the first of April, this day marks the international convention of laughter and stupidity. For example telling your friends that their shoelaces are untied or sending them on so-called fools’ errands and making someone look for things that don’t exist.
Though accurate insight into its origin remains clouded, but the custom of harmless prank-playing is heterogeneous and is adopted from multiple sources. As per an explanation, the April Fools’ Day traces its roots back to the Roman empire, corresponding to the Roman festival of “Hilaria” knows as fools day and the Medieval “Feast of Fools”. The reign of the Romans would observe this day by indulging in lighthearted giddiness and tame mockery. The folklore suggests 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 the empire.
Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an order calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.
Stumbling down the road of time, the concept was adopted by various cultures and nationalities around the world and was assimilated and interpreted as per their own sensibilities. In United Kingdom, the jokes are revealed by shouting “April Fool” at someone who becomes the April Fool for the day. However, the jokes cease midday, post which if someone cracks a joke, they are declared April Fool’s themselves. In Ireland, tradition of sending a letter ambiguous of the recipient was popular with a sentence reading “send the fool further”.
The seriousness of the day in places like Norway, Denmark and Sweden is considered to be of utmost importance. As per the available information, atleast one publication will file a false story or misrepresent and distort the facts. Another custom called the “April Fish” has been found in many late 19th century and early 20th century postcards pertaining to Belgium and French speaking parts of Switzerland. As per the theory, a paper fish is attached behind the “fool” however discreetly to announce him as the dolt. In India, the festival of Holi is also observed ahead of this day and in some cultures it marks the beginning of a new calendar year.
The variations for the celebration of this day are many but the central idea is to fool someone and commemorate the occasion.