There's been a great deal written about April Fool's Day. Every year for the past 100 years, whenever the day rolls around, newspapers and magazines have been producing articles about the history and customs of the celebration. Unfortunately, most of what's been written is not very good. The same small nuggets of information (and generous heapings of misinformation) are repeated uncritically over and over again.
To find better analyses of April Fool's Day, one needs to turn to folklorists, who have produced the bulk of the few serious studies of the celebration that exist.
Listed below is the best of the bunch. It's arranged in chronological order, to make it easier to see the most recent studies.
- Brand, John. (1853). Observations on Popular Antiquities of Great Britain. A new edition, revised and greatly enlarged by Sir Henry Ellis. Henry G. Bohn: 131-141.
- Dickens, Charles Jr. (1869). "All Fools' Day." The Gentleman's Magazine. 2: 543-548.
- Lemoine, Jules. (1889). "Le poisson d'Avril en Belgique." Revue des Traditions Populaires. 4: 227-30.
- Bolton, H. Carrington. (1891). "All-Fools' Day in Italy." The Journal of American Folklore. 4(13): 168-170.
- Walsh, William S. (1897). Curiosities of Popular Customs and of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities. J. B. Lippincott Company: 58-62.
- Pitre, Giuseppe. (1902). Curiosita di Usi Popolari. Catania.
- "How April Fool Originated and Some Famous Pranks," (Mar 31, 1912). The New York Times.
- "April." (1927). in E. Hoffmann-Krayer and Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, eds. Handwörterbuch des Deutschen Aberglaubens, Vol I. Walter de Gruyter: 555-67.
- Wight, John. (1927). "April Fools' Day and Its Humours." Word-Lore. 2: 37-40.
- Opie, Iona, and Peter Opie. (1959). The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. Clarendon Press: 243-248.
- Laliberte, Monique. (1980). "Le poisson d'avril." Culture & Tradition. 5: 79-89.
- Dundes, Alan. (1988). "April Fool and April Fish: Towards a Theory of Ritual Pranks," Etnofoor (1). p.4-14.
- Santino, Jack. (1994). All Around The Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. University of Illinois Press: 96-101.
- Beyst, Rene. (1995-1996). "Even ernstig over 1 April."
- Harder, Manfred Boje. (1999). Der Globus von Europa.
- Favrod, Justin and Jean-Daniel Morerod. (2000). "Le poisson d'avril est ne d'un jeu de mot quelque peu douteux." Liberte.
- McEntire, Nancy Cassell. (Summer 2002). "Purposeful Deceptions of the April Fool," Western Folklore. 61(2): 133-151.
- Roud, Steve. (2006). The English Year: A month-by-month guide to the nation's customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night. Penguin Books: 94-96.
- Wainwright, Martin. (2007). The Guardian Book of April Fool's Day. Aurum Press.
- Smith, Moira. (Dec 2009). "Arbiters of Truth at Play: Media April Fools' Day Hoaxes," Folklore. 120: 274-290.