History of April Fool’s Day from a Search Engine

Before you think this is an April Fool’s Day joke allow me to assure you it is not. I just couldn’t sleep and decided to do some research. I’m too tired to think of a good prank at the moment.

Ok, I’m up late because I can’t sleep and it is now nearly 2:00AM my local time on April 1st. I’m a history fanatic and like to know about the origins and development of things like countries, families (genealogy), words (etymology) and holidays. Since I am up anyway I decided to research the origins and history of April Fool’s Day.

I love having “the internet” at my fingertips for research. It is so easy to use a few search terms in AltaVista and drum up dozens, hundreds or thousands of results to do research on nearly any topic one can imagine. There is no difference in a search for information on April Fool’s Day or almost any other holiday. Of course sometimes one must thresh many “hits” in a search to get through the chaff to the kernels of truth.

The thing about history is … it is history. No amount of rewriting actually changes the facts. The only problem is all the chaff on top of historical facts added by folks with one agenda or another, personal or political. When it comes to history I prefer “just the facts ma’am”. I can draw my own conclusions about motives or other intangibles. In any case, I’ve pulled up a few sites with information on the history of April Fool’s Day. I’ll share a tidbit with you and point to the URLs I used. Maybe then I can get some sleep.

The main thing I discovered is no one seems to really know how or when April Fool’s Day started. There is a lot of conjecture, but no proof. So for now I am deciding the origin is still shrouded in the mists of time and is likely to remain so. However, the conjectures are worth a perusal so take a look at April Fools’ Day: Origin and History – The uncertain origins of a foolish day. Another good URL is The Origin of April Fool’s Day which I found especially enjoyable reading. However, the crowning find of my search in my opinion is The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time. I did not read the entire list but I read a few and intend to read the remainder after I get some rest.

If you want to do your own research on April Fool’s Day here is an AltaVista search to get you started. I think I can sleep now …

Edit Tue Apr 1 17:20:48 UTC 2008: I found that Museum of Hoaxes (cited twice above) has an even more detailed page called April Fools Day – Origin.


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Gene A.

Gene is a "Unix Guy", network technologist, system trouble-shooter and IT generalist with over 20 years experience in the SOHO and SMB markets. He is familiar with and conversant in eComStation (a.k.a. OS/2), DOS (PC, MS and Free), Unix, Linux and those GUI based systems from Microsoft. Gene is also a follower of Jesus (forgiven, not perfect), and this does inform his world view.