Follow-up to REAL theories for the origin of April Fool’s Day

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Classical Civilization, The Postclassical Age (Medieval History), The Early Modern Age


Last week, I posted this article that had 3 real theories on the origins of April Fool’s Day, and 3 fake theories. Below are the 3 true theories:

1. In 1582, France switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March to January. People who still celebrated in March were mocked as fools.
3. Ancient Romans celebrated Hilaria on the vernal equinox, in late March, to honor mother goddess Cybele. The ritual included dressing up in disguises.

5. Mother Nature often “fooled” ancient and medieval people in the northern hemisphere around the time of the vernal equinox, in late March, through shifting weather patterns that rarely seemed to match the season. 

These I made up (mixing truth and fiction).
2. In 1319, authorities in Dresden and the surrounding German towns executed nearly 700 Jews and lepers, after a teenage boy claimed the two groups had plotted to poison the wells. On April 6 of 1322, the boy admitted that he had fabricated the claim. [The truth: this sort of accusation against lepers and particularly Jews was common during the middle ages, particularly in response to plague. But the whole Dresden story and the connection to April Fool’s is made up.]
4. The pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons worshipped a trickster god named Lôgna – their version of the Norse god Loki – and they celebrated his holiday in early April. [The Anglo-Saxons did worship Lôgna, and he was their version of Loki. But the rest is made up.]
6. During the 1490’s, a Dutch tradesman named Willem Cruyff claimed to be the true duke of Burgundy and attracted a following with promises of tax relief. Authorities executed him on March 31 or April 1 of 1497, along with six of the “fools” who followed him. [Fake monarchs cropped up here and there in European history, and they sometimes led rebel movements—like the fake Peter III in Russia. But the whole Willem Cruyff story is made up, as is his name.] 

How did you do? Were you able to figure out which were fact and which were fiction? 


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