FEAST OF FOOLS
The exact origin of April Fool’s Day is unknown, but it is generally credited to France.
The most likely explanation dates back to 1563 when France switched to the Gregorian calendar which moved the start of the year to January 1st. The old Julian calendar had begun the year with April 1st, so people who celebrated the new year in April were not current and the butt of jokes.
A common prank at the time was to attach a paper fish to someone’s back, making them a “poisson d’Avril” or April fish, meaning the person was easily caught out and gullible.
Pulling pranks like sending people on phony errands became popular in Britain in the 18th century.
The media has picked up the hoax tradition of writing April Fool’s Day front pages to newspapers and the BBC’s famous broadcast of Swiss farmers harvesting spaghetti.
Here is Elwe’s map of France from 1792.
Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.
Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.