What’s all the tomfoolery about?

March 27th 2017
By: Melanie
What’s all the tomfoolery about?

One of the best April Fool’s Day spoofs ever was partly filmed at the once Pasta Foods factory on London Road St Albans.  It was made for a 1957 April 1st edition of BBC documentary series Panorama, about the fictitious Swiss spaghetti harvest.  If you are way too young to remember the broadcast it can still be found on YouTube.
We might all enjoy creating and sharing pranks to play on family and friends at this time of year but where did the tradition come from?  April 1st used to be called All Fools’ Day, and some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to realise that the start of the new year had moved to January 1st continued to celebrate it during the last week of March so April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.
The enjoyment of April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on fake errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool).  It was followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.
Others have speculated  that April Fools’ Day was somehow linked to the vernal equinox, when despite the arrival of Spring Mother Nature continues to  fool people with changing, unpredictable weather.