Why do we celebrate April Fools' Day? Everything you need to know
Falling smack dab between St. Patrick's Day and Easter is the most popular day of the year for tricksters. Yep, that's right, we're talkin' about none other than April Fools' Day.
If your heart beats a bit faster over the prospect of pranking unsuspecting friends, family and coworkers, you've come to the right place because we're here to fill you in on everything you need to know about when the holiday lands this year.
And seriously? That's no joke (note our punny humor right there).
We've also got a bit of background on why we celebrate this bizarre (but beloved) tradition of fooling people for the sake of our own amusement.
So, when is April Fools' Day this year? We're about to fill you in.
When is April Fools' Day in 2023?
This year, April Fools' Day falls on Thursday, March 30.
Sorry, we had to.
If you fell for that, we need to talk because it's called April Fools' for good reason. It falls in April, not March and, like always, it's on April 1.
If you're curious what day of the week it lands on this year, good news: It's on a Saturday, which means you have an entire day to dream up and execute the perfect prank on friends and family.
And there are so many good ones.
A favorite among all practical jokes comes from an episode of "The Office" in which Jim puts Dwight Schrute’s stapler inside a Jello mold. Classic.
Other April Fools' pranks include swapping the filling in a sandwich cookie for toothpaste or replacing the salt in the shaker with sugar. Really, there's no end to the pranks you can play in the name of good fun.
Why do we celebrate April Fools' Day?
You might be surprised to learn that we've been celebrating April Fools' Day for centuries.
According to an article published by the Library of Congress Magazine on the subject, no knows exactly when the tradition began, but it's possible it started with a classical Roman festival called "Hilaria," a celebration of the spring equinox which took place anywhere between 625 B.C. to 476 A.D.
Given the timing of the ancient festival, the date of April Fools' Day, April 1, makes a lot of sense.
Hilaria's festivities included games and other amusements. Supposedly mocking others or wearing disguises was also part of the ritual, so not too far removed from our current April Fools' traditions.
That said, specific references to April Fools' weren't found until 1561 when Eduard De Dene wrote a poem that mentions sending a servant off to perform a series of frivolous errands just for laughs.
Sound familiar? If you've ever used the expression being sent out on a "fool's errand," this is where it comes from.
Sending someone to do a bunch of foolish things for personal amusement apparently caught on because 500 years later, the practical joke was still making the rounds, at least according to a 1902 newspaper article, which mentions sending "unsophisticated" people out to do "fruitless" errands just because it's funny.
Do other countries celebrate April Fools' Day?
The U.S. isn't the only country to get in on the fun.
According to the Museum of Hoaxes, a 1957 BBC broadcast in Britain convinced people that Swiss farmers were growing spaghetti on trees.
Gullible viewers phoned the TV station asking how they could grow pasta-bearing trees of their own. To be fair, we’d be all in for backyard penne, but, alas, it was only a prank.
The Swedes got in on the action a few years later. In 1962, people covered their televisions with stockings after a mock news segment said nylons could convert black and white into color.
Various tricksters in other countries like Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Norway (and countless others) have also used April Fools' Day as an excuse to prank gullible citizens with great success, too.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com