April 1 – April Fool’s Day, why it is customary to play acquaintances and friends

Today in Greece, however, as in many other countries, they “celebrate” April Fool’s Day. How did this strange custom of telling lies and playing pranks on friends come about?

April is the fourth month of the year, lasting 30 days. But originally April was the second month of the ten-month Roman calendar, and was called Aprilis, getting its name from the Latin verb aperire, which means “open”, because the buds bloom in this month.

April is the month of flowers and moisture. The rainfall during the season was considered beneficial by farmers, and in the past in Thrace, rainwater on April Fool’s Day was considered healing and was given to the sick.

But the most basic custom in the month of April is the so-called April Fool’s Day, that is, the day when we play pranks and make fun of acquaintances, friends and colleagues. Usually this is an innocent lie, which is resorted to in order to deceive the “prank victim” and have a good laugh. Residents of some parts of the country still believe that whoever manages to deceive another will be lucky for the rest of the year.

So where did this strange custom come from? The two most common versions

On the first day of April, it is customary to tell only well-intentioned lies (it is not customary to make “hard” jokes that can somehow harm). The custom came to Greece from Western Europe, with the following two versions being the most common. For the first the custom was laid down by the Celts, a people of northwestern Europe who were avid fishermen. In those distant times, the fishing season began on April 1, but at this time, prey does not easily fall into the nets. Thus, both old and young lied about how many fish they caught, of course, greatly exaggerating. This habit eventually became a custom.

Second version, which is considered more historically reliable, suggests that the birthplace of the custom was France in the 16th century. Until 1564, the French New Year was April 1st. However, this year and during the reign of Charles IX, everything changed, and then January 1 was considered the New Year.

At first, not all citizens agreed with this. The reactionaries still continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1, and the rest (advanced) sent them New Year’s gifts to make fun of them. This teasing eventually became a tradition.

Custom in Greece

In Greece, the custom must have been known since the time of the Crusades. The habit of lying, according to the folklorist Georgios Megas, is a common mechanism of “protection from the evil eye”, as is customary among the people. According to the folklorist Dimitrios Loukatos, the April Fool’s lie is “a deliberate deception of the harmful forces that hinder business in agriculture.”

Be that as it may, probably, in difficult times (and when they were simple?!) sometimes you need to joke a little and distract yourself from difficult thoughts, i.e. engage in laughter therapy.

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