April the first stands mark’d by custom’s rules,
A day for being, and for making fools: —
But, pray, what custom, or what rule supplies
A day for making, or for being — wise?
(Rev. Samuel Bishop, 1796)
This is one of the earliest known mentions of April Fool’s Day. Though the exact origin is a bit cloudy, most historians trace a general air of tomfoolery back to antiquity.The Romans celebrated a festive holiday during the end of March known as Hilaria. The Jewish festival of Purim is also celebrated during this time and incorporates costumes, carnivals, and pranks.While I’ve heard that an ancient Dutch poem mentions April Fool’s and was written in 1561. So, in any case we can see that playing pranks and making all sorts of general merriment is the custom for this time of the year!