What it is:
An observance which takes place in many western countries every April 1, traditionally known as April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day (aka Poisson d'Avril — "April Fish" — in France). It's a day when humor reigns and harmless pranks, practical jokes, and hoaxes are sanctioned. Customary practices range from simple tricks played on friends, family, and coworkers to elaborate media hoaxes concocted for mass consumption.
Theories of origin:
The origins of April Fools' Day are obscure. The most commonly accepted theory holds that it dates from 1582, the year France adopted the Gregorian Calendar, which shifted the observance of New Year's Day from the end of March (around the time of the vernal equinox) to the first of January. According to popular lore some folks, out of ignorance, stubbornness, or both, continued to ring in the New Year on April 1 and were made the butt of jokes and pranks on account of their foolishness. This became an annual tradition, according to this version of events, which ultimately spread throughout Europe.
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