April 1, 1536 – April Foals’ Day

On April 1, 1536, the first official “April Fools’ Day” was celebrated in London, England under the rule of King Henry VIII.  Though relatively harmless fun in modern times, the pranks and hoaxes the holiday is known for have a rather grim origin.  The first April Fools’ Day began when the King’s court jester or “fool”, was brainless enough to joke about the King’s notorious six failed marriages. King Henry’s reaction to this lighthearted ribbing, was somewhat disproportionate to the offense and the fool was promptly beheaded, as was the custom of the time.  Very, very gradually over the years, April Fools’ Day pranks transitioned from public beheadings to the more psychologically and emotionally scarring pranks we endure today.

The “unofficial” origins of the holiday extend back centuries further to the ancient Druids, who would mark the day by celebrating the spring births of their horses (April Foals’ Day).  The intent of the holiday was  a serious celebration of new beginnings, the departure of the cold, cruel winter, and the arrival of Spring, but usually ended up being a bunch of drunk assholes throwing horse placentas at each other.

Over the years different countries have developed their own traditions for April Fools’ Day.  For instance, in Scotland, April Fools’ Day is traditionally called Huntigowk Day, which translates to “Hunt the Gowk” Day (a “gowk” being Scotish for “foolish”).  As part of the holiday tradition, villagers would cast votes for the most foolish person in town. The winning fool was dubbed “the gowk”.  The entire village was then invited to hunt the unlucky bastard, who was sent out into the Scottish moors with nothing but a pat on the kilt and a three hour head start.  It would be years later that American author (of Scottish descent) Richard Connell would capture an adaptation of this grisly tradition in his classic short story, “The Most Dangerous Game” (originally titled “The Gowk That Got Away”).

I hope you have found this enlightening and if someone tries to April Fool you today, you can explain to them that no matter what they do to you, it beats being beheaded or hunted like wild game.  While these uneducated individuals are trying to figure out what in the hell you’re talking about, you can take that opportunity to throw a horse placenta at them and make your exit (horse placentas can be found wherever hipsters shop).

Happy Fools Day from Hogwash!!!

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