In the Julian calendar, April 1st was designated as the New Year's Day and was so celebrated till 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the adoption of the new Gregorian Calendar, which specified January 1st as the New Year's Day.
Many of the ancient cultures such as Romans and Hindus and the medieval Europeans used to celebrate New Year's Day on sometime near the vernal equinox that could range from March 20th to April 5th. In the Julian calendar, April 1st
was designated as the New Year's Day and was so celebrated till 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the adoption of the new Gregorian Calendar, which specified January 1st as the New Year's Day. However, due to slow communications and resistance of people to change their traditions, many people continued to celebrate New Year's Day as before on 1st of April. Scottish only adopted the new calendar in 1660, Germans, Danish and Norwegians in 1700 and English in 1752.
Many French resisted the change and neoiites dubbed them as fools and played pranks on them. They started sending them on 'fool's errands', sent them the fake invitations for parties and tricked them into believing something false. The victims were called 'Poisson d'Avril' or 'April Fish' as the naïve fish gets caught easily and children would often tag of a fish's picture on someone's back. Thus, April
Fool's Day originated and was popularly celebrated in England and in the American colonies. It evolved and was caught on quickly throughout the world to trick each other and have fun. Even today, people play pranks on each other on this day in the memory of those tradition-obsessed 'fools'.
Perhaps the best illustration of the April Fool's Pranks of the 19th century is the Thomas Nast's illustration, originally published in the April
2, 1864 issue of Harper's Weekly. It highlights the various pranks that were popularly played at the time with its caption as 'All Fool's Day'. Some of the pranks shown here include women visiting an older man wearing beards and moustaches, Civil War Soldiers tricking each other such as a soldier barring the view by holding his hand on in front of the binoculars of a friend and a sailor doing the same by holding his hat over the telescope of a friend. The other tricks include a young boy tying a string on the dress of a little girl while a schoolteacher is shown with the sign of 'Old Fool' on his back.