For Kids: The history of April Fool's Day goes back to the 16th century (the 1500s.)
Today, all over the world, on the first day in April, April Fool's is a day where tricks are played on people in a spirit of fun. Anyone who plays a mean trick is just being mean. For the rest of us, April Fool's Day is a challenging game of trickery!
In France, April 1st is called "Poisson d'Avril." French kids play a special game on this day. The object of the game is to tape a paper fish on someone's back without that person noticing. When the victim spots the fish taped to their back, the kids yell "Poisson d’Avril!" (April Fish!)
In Belgium, Egyptologist, Jacques Kinnaer, shared: "I can add to your explanation of the French "April Fish". The expression "April Fish", in my region of the country (in Belgium), not only applies to the paper (or real) fish being stuck to someone's back, but to the tricks played on that day in general. If I played a prank on you on April 1st, the expression would be (translated into English) that I've baked you an April's Fish. Even the media (press and radio) try to bake an April's Fish by adding something untrue to the news. A couple of years ago, for instance, there was an announcement that a new piece of paper money would be made, with the image of Dirk Frimout (our famous Belgian astronaut!) That was a prank, but many people believed it."
In India, Sudneer Birodkar, an Indian novelist and ancient Indian historian, shared with us the following:
"April Fools Day as such is not a traditional festival in India. But from times immemorial there has been a festival called Holi or Holikotsava celebrated in March/April. This comes somewhat close to all fools day. Holi or Holikotsava is celebrated over two days. On the evening of the first day bonfires are lit, normally in a public place. On the second day people throw coloured powder and water at each other."
"Holi centers around a bonfire. Weeks before the arrival of Holi, gangs comb the neighbourhood and collect all waste-wood, old wooden furniture etc. which they can lay their hands upon. After weeks of preparation judiciously combined with activities that come close to pillaging, assorted pieces of wood are piled up to be lit on the evening of the festival day." Sudheer Birodkar
In Newfoundland, Bruce Lane, a Newfoundland nature and wild life photographer and teacher, shared: "Yes we do celebrate April Fool's Day in Newfoundland! The custom is that until noon you can trick people with lies and exaggerations. For example, one morning a local radio station reported seeing a herd of seals far up an inland river. They reported the story several times until noon when they informed the audience it was an April Fools trick!"
In the United States, April 1st is a day set aside to play small, clever tricks on people. Placing salt in the sugar bowl when no one is looking is not a real trick. Where's the cleverness in that? A real April Fool's trick takes thought, creativity, timing, and a bit of acting.
There are rules to this game. Your trick must be harmless, your victim must believe you, and your trickery must make your victim at least smile (or better yet, laugh) when you shout "April Fool's!" Otherwise, it does not qualify as an April Fool's Day trick.