CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Most of us love to laugh. Thankfully there’s one day a year when people get to laugh a bit more than usual. April Fools’ Day gives them an excuse to play a harmless prank or to tell someone what they think of them under the guise of a joke. But where did it all start? How did this tradition get so ingrained into our culture?

No joke, nobody knows, at least not for sure. According to NPR, the earliest April Fools’ Day traditions date back to Renaissance Europe, but the idea of the holiday likely started long before that.

Some historians have said that the holiday harkens back to the “Hilaria” festival of ancient Rome. During this festival at the end of March, people would gather and commemorate the resurrection of the Roman god Attis. The festival celebrated renewal and featured people dressing up in disguises and imitating those around them like a much more lighthearted Halloween.

According to NPR, Another renaissance theory is that the holiday began its existence in 16th-century France when the country switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar began in March with the spring equinox and was celebrated until April 1. When the switch was made to the new calendar, some people didn’t get the message right away, and some just didn’t want to switch at all.

However, following the official switch, those that continued to celebrate the new year in the spring were ridiculed and had pranks played on them by others. One of these pranks involved putting a paper fish on someone’s back and nicknaming them “poisson d’avril” which translates to “April fish.” An “April fish” references an old saying at the time regarding the plentiful amount of fish in the spring season and how easy it was to catch them, so an “April fish” refers to one more gullible than the others.

NPR also said that one of the first hard references to the existence of April Fools’ Day comes from a Flemish poem written in 1561 by Eduard de Dene. In the poem, a servant is sent out by a nobleman to perform several unusual errands. As he attempts to complete them, the servant realizes that they were “fool’s errands” because it was April 1, giving us written evidence of the holiday.

12 News would like to remind our viewers to not always believe everything they read on the internet, especially on April 1. If you find something you read to be outlandish or highly improbable, be sure it comes from a reliable source or from an outlet that cites updated reliable sources. When in doubt, wait until April 2.