April 1, 1698 Washing the Lions

A little history lesson on this April Fool’s Day.

Today in History

Festival of FoolsApril Fools.  The ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, held on March 25, may be a precursor.  The Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, is still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.

In one translation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “March 32” of 1392 is the day the vain cock Chauntecleer was tricked by a fox. The fox appealed to the rooster’s vanity by insisting he would love to hear Chauntecleer crow, just as his amazing father did.  Standing on tiptoe with neck outstretched and eyes closed. The rooster obliged, with unfortunate, if not unpredictable results.

In 1582, France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian moving New Year to January 1 as specified by the Council of Trent of 1563. Those who didn’t get the news and continued to celebrate New Year in late March/April 1, quickly became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. Paper…

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