Who was the original April Fool? Where did the day come from?
-- The Weaver Family, La Mesa
Nobody's positive, but best evidence says it was a Frenchman. It's 1564, and the French king says everybody's switching from the Julian calendar (New Year's Day, March 25) to the new, improved Gregorian calendar (New Year's Day, January 1). Under the old calendar, it was traditional to begin celebrating on March 25, culminating on April 1 with big parties and gift-giving. But apparently some people either didn't get the news about the calendar change or decided they wanted to party anyway. The hip Frenchmen, those in-the-know, of course, saw a perfect opportunity to laugh at their inferiors; they started sending joke gifts and fake party invitations on April 1 to those who weren't up with the times. The sneer-fest was too satisfying to discontinue. April Fool's Day migrated to England about two centuries later, then to the U.S