When it comes to holiday traditions, we have some weird ones that are unique to the United States, like:
- Shopping for bargains on Black Friday
- Our obsession with everything pumpkin-flavored – from the first day of fall through the Christmas season
- Drinking eggnog at holiday parties
- Eight days of Hanukkah gift-giving
- The official Presidential Turkey Pardon each Thanksgiving
While the above traditions are distinctive of American culture, there’s one bizarre custom we share with countries around the world: April Fools’ Day.
Where did April Fools’ Day come from?
Although the exact origin is unknown, this holiday has been celebrated for centuries by many different cultures. Some historians believe that April Fools’ Day originated in 16th century France when the country decided to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. News of the change didn’t travel very fast in those days, and citizens still following the Julian calendar began their new year on April 1, instead of January 1.
The stragglers became known as “April fools” because they were behind the times. They celebrated the end of the year during the last week of March, leading up to the first day of April, instead of December to January as we do today.
As you can imagine, these poor souls were the butt of many jokes. Fellow Frenchmen hung paper fish on the backs of April fools to symbolize an easily caught fish, or a gullible person. And, as I’m sure you know, it’s still customary today to play practical jokes on family, friends, and coworkers, followed by an exuberant exclamation of, “April Fools!”
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