Despite having no official recognition, April 1 has long been celebrated as a day to celebrate, well, foolishness to be exact. More specifically, April Fools’ Day is about making other people look stupid with practical jokes.
As dearly as we hold the tradition of making fools of the people we care about, there’s little more than theories about where April Fools’ Day came from. Figuring out the origins of the holiday can be as tricky as getting to the source of a joke.
The most common theory about the earliest April Fools’ celebrations goes like this: In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing a new standard calendar for Christian Europe that would take his name and centuries later become the standard internationally in the 21st century.
Prior to the 15th century, Europe’s nations and city states operated using the Julian calendar. The Gregorian calendar moved the date of the new year from April 1 to January 1, among other changes. Catholic monarchies were naturally its earliest adopters, though Protestant nations later followed suit.