Today is April Fools’ Day.  Americans typically celebrate by playing practical jokes on friends and strangers alike. One old favorite started with teachers in the 19th century who would point to the sky and tell their pupils, “Look! A flock of geese,” when there were really no geese to be found. (Must have been a joke before HUMOR was invented…)

Other common pranks these days include putting salt in the sugar bowl and college students setting their clocks back an hour so their roommates show up to the wrong class — or not at all…assuming they were planning to attend in the first place.

But WHY? How about a quick little history lesson to make you feel smart today?

There’s no clear origin to April Fools’ Day.  References to the first of April as a day of trickery date back all the way to “Canterbury Tales” in the 14th century.  The first recorded April Fools’ Day was in France in 1582.  It’s believed that April 1st was celebrated as New Year’s Day before the Gregorian calendar changed it to January 1st.  Those who didn’t get the word about the change were called “fools,” and people played tricks on them.  That grew into a tradition of playing pranks or telling lies on the first day of April. Now, you’re no fool!

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