It’s April Fools Day and, as you might have guessed, this post has to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, I was interested in the origins of the Day of the Pranksters and did some research. There are, in fact, several origins listed in the trusted Wikipedia, none of them particularly interesting and definitely not one origin that could be nailed as the source of April 1st.
In the Middle Ages, New Year was not celebrated on the 1st of January but from March 25th to April 1st. Until the Edict of Roussillion of 1564 decreed January 1st as New Year. Given the slowness of communication of the times, it took a few years until every citizen knew about the change and those who still celebrated New Year on the 1st of April were made fun off by those savvy fellow countrymen who already were in possession of the new date. Sounds a good enough explanation to me.
There are other reference to England and Chancer’s Canterbury Tales which apparently had a spelling error. The first British reference to ‘ Fooles Holy Day’ comes from John Aubrey in 1686. Reading on, I came to a list of famous pranks played on April the 1st and the funniest is the one which makes the title of this post.
Apparently in 1698 tickets were sold in London to watch the Washing of the Lions at the Tower of London and many people were tricked into buying them. This little scam seems to have endured times as I found another ticket dating from 1868.
So, if you happen to be in London today, why don’t you head for the Tower, on the off chance that there are a few lions around in need of a good Spring scrub!!!
Happy Fools Day.