We’ve all been had by the date of April Fool’s Day, according to a leading British historian who claims that we should be playing our practical jokes on the 1st of May, not the 1st of April.
“When the modern April Fool’s Day was revived in the mid eighteenth century after hundreds of years of neglect a mistranslation from medieval Danish placed it on the first day of April,” said Professor Ian Gruffold, head of linguistic history at the University of Norfolk. “The original Alle Fules Dae was in fact observed on the first day after the end of April, or the ‘lyrst’ of April, which was mistranslated as the ‘fyrst’ of April.”
The Venerable Bede makes mention of a day of trickery that takes place on the first day of May.
“A novicce monk was sent to a nereby monastery and told to aske for a voluminous wayte”, wrote the 7th century historian. “He was kep’t for many long howrs in patient expectashun but did nevr receive the objecd, much to the mirth of all els involv’d.”
The Domesday book records that the original observance of All Fools Day was banned during the construction of Durham cathedral by King Henry the 4th as too many young labourers on the project were being diverted to local merchants in search of tins of striped paint.
All Fools Day pranks were revived in the 1750s and mistakenly ascribed to the first day of April by London mayor Dick Whittington. Boswell relates in his biography of Samuel Johnson an incident where an apprentice baker was sent to the London menagerie to deliver two dozen buns to a Mr Camelopard.
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