This year was no different. For instance, over at the Huffington Post, Alex Leo reported:
Andrea Thompson of LiveScience (in an article featured on the front page of Yahoo) wrote:
It's time to kill this theory off once and for all. In fact, it shouldn't even qualify as a theory. It's just a historical legend. Here are the facts:
- There is no evidence in the historical record to suggest people were mocked for getting confused about the date change. When reporters offer this as a historical fact, they're inventing history.
- In fact, the beginning of the year was not celebrated on April 1 in any European country. The English began the year on March 25. The French began it on Easter Day. There may have been a few, rare occasions when Easter fell on April 1, but that wouldn't have been enough to create a strong association between April 1 and the beginning of the year.
- Under the Julian calendar the year began... on January 1! So this was part of the Julian calendar that the Gregorian reforms didn't change, but actually reasserted.
- The other dates (March 25 and Easter) had been adopted in some countries because their rulers had felt the year should begin on a date of greater theological significance. But these dates were mainly used for administrative purposes (which is why the tax year still begins later in the year in some countries). Among the general population, January 1 was widely regarded as the traditional start of the year. The reason the French King officially moved the beginning of the year back to January 1 in 1564 is because he was bowing to popular demand. That's when everyone was celebrating it anyway.
- Here's the clincher: there are literary references to April 1 being a "fool's errand day" that date from before the calendar reforms. This being the case, how could the calendar reforms possibly have been the origin of the celebration?
- Finally, serious historians don't give the calendar-change theory any credence. Instead, the general consensus is that April Fool's Day is descended from some ancient pagan tradition associated with the beginning of Spring. Beyond that, it's not possible to say much. As the folklorist Alan Dundes noted about April Fool's Day, "ultimate origins are almost always impossible to ascertain definitively."