Marching into the New Year: April Fool!

Once upon a time, all over the world, everyone followed the same calendar; the Lunar Calendar. Even today, in Turkey and Iran, people follow the Lunar Calendar; March is the New Year.

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Indian subcontinent, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.)

The conjunction of the earth, sun and moon coming in alignment near the vernal equinox every year – a perfectly balanced point in the earth-sun-moon system, was deemed by the ancient, knowledgeable people as an apt milestone to usher in a New Day, a New Year and new hopes.

In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year. So, March was the first month of the calendars. April the second month, May the third...November the ninth, December the tenth, January the eleventh and February the twelfth month. Know more: 12 months and the Sanskrit connection

Even today, the New year in India is traditionally celebrated in March-April.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1.

According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1.

Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. It was said that anyone who celebrates in April are fools, and that is how April 1 came to be known as Fools Day. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

References:
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/holidays/p/april_fools_day.htm
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html

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