April Fools Day and Traditions

April Fools Day and Traditions

Did you get fooled on April 1? We have talked about traditions several times on this site, and April Fools Day is rooted in an interesting tradition. The battle between different religious belief systems has altered our calendar in various ways, and the start of the new year is one of them.

In the fifteenth century, many people celebrated Easter as the start of the new year. The problem was that Easter came on the first Sunday after a full moon after the vernal equinox. That meant that the new year started at a different time every year, making the calendar incredibly complicated.

With the Gregorian calendar in 1539, people began the tradition of celebrating New Years Day in January. However, some diehards wanted to keep it tied to Easter. The Flemish poet Eduard de Dene jumped into the discussion and wrote of playing jokes on April 1 on those who began the new year in April.

Celebration of the new year was a response to religious tradition, and it has no biblical basis. The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles measuring the years from the traditional date of Genesis. Independence Day for the nation of Israel was in the Jewish year of 5708 (May 14, 1948, on the Gregorian calendar).

January was named by a Roman ruler, in honor of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. People have made significant alterations in the calendar based on human traditions and the position of the Sun and the Moon, but April Fools Day was a time of playing pranks on those who held to Easter as the start of the year.

— John N. Clayton © 2021