April Fools Day: Resources from The Library of Congress



 

 

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”   -- Mark Twain

 

What is the origin of April Fools’ Day?    This holiday can be traced to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar created by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. with the Gregorian calendar that we now use.  Until this change occurred, New Year’s Day was celebrated on April 1, around the time of the vernal equinox. In France today, the holiday is called Poisson d ’Avril, or April Fish, because schoolchildren tape a paper fish to a classmate’s back, and when it is discovered, yell “Poisson d”Avril!” (April fish).  In Scotland, the person subjected to an April Fools’ joke is called a gowk, or cuckoo. Explore more interesting facts with resources from The Library of Congress, including sample articles from Chronicling America, The Library’s collection of historic newspapers.