Many traditional and ancient cultures have had “days or periods of foolishness” around the start of April, or more accurately around the vernal equinox. Passover, Easter, and many other holidays celebrate this astronomical phenomenon. Why? Because it more than anything else, signifies a new year. Nature is reborn, as the vibrancy and fertility of life itself seems renewed. Using our reproductive metaphor, or more accurately, anthropocentrism (for a definition of this concept read Kemet Revisted, p. 10, "The Basis of Cosmology"), we can compare a calendar year to the human life cycle. For example, Spring is our birth; Summer, our adulthood; Fall, our Elderhood; and Winter, our Death. The Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, and Huang He River valley high cultures all knew and designed their calendrical activities based on this model. Consequently, all these Afrikan societies celebrated the coming of spring. And Afrikan seasonal follow a definite script. These celebrations mark a return to liminal time, or a time before cultural time, before creation. The lack of structure and order that cultural life brings is absent, and as a result, these celebrations inverted normal behaviors, in essence, reversing cultural norms. This symbolically expresses a return to pre-cultural times. Anthropologists call these rites, “rites of reversal.”
During such festival, ritual enactments might include the following: an increase in lascivious behavior, gender role reversals, ritualized violence (often stick fighting), disrespectful behavior to authority figures, and the young challenging the old--these are all behaviors that if permitted during normal times would disavow culture and its proper functioning. The practicing of these ritual behaviors, disconnected from their cultural meaning and surroundings, would be tantamount to foolishness. It was remnant ritual behaviors of the Hilaria in the age of medieval Christendom. In has even been noted that some of the activities on the Hilaria resembled those associated with April Fools’ Day. The practical jokes, teasing, and general silliness of the latter grew out of the masquerades and boisterous festivity of the former. This is the foundation of All Fools Day or April Fool's Day.
The Roman celebrated a festival to the fertility goddess Cybele on the vernal equinox, or March 25. This festival, which honored Cybele, and the resurrection of her son-lover, Attis, ended with the Hilaria festival or celebration. It was the last day of the festival to Cybele, which lasted eight days, meaning the Hilaria occurred near the first of April. (The start date and duration of the festival seems to have varied.) The association of resurrection and lighthearted revelry of the Hilaria extended into Christianity. (Attis, like Jesus, was a resurrecting god.) In can be argued that Christian church leaders did not hesitate to graft or merge elements of Hilaria and Ishtar, both vernal equinox celebrations, with Christianity, especially since those cults' celebrations were held on or at the same time as the Christian celebration. As the Hilaria ended with ritual behavior that anthropologist would identify as rites of reversal, this behavior would become associated with "foolishness" as Christendom became more and more secular, and scientific. The word "hilarious," in all probability is derived from the activities of the festival.
Hence, we are able to establish a connection between Hilaria and April Fool's Day. We can additionally make a linkage between Hilaria and Christianity. For example, the French, among whom the holiday was first celebrated, call April 1, "April Fish" ( Poisson d'Avril). This fish is actually a reference to the Jesus fish, and Jesus and fishes have been associated symbols going back to the beginnings of Christianity. Ichthys comes from the Koine Greek word for fish. It is also capitalized as ΙΧΘΥΣ and is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish, used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the "sign of the fish" or the "Jesus fish. But more revealing it is acronym:
The word Fish is an abbreviation of this whole title, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, and Cross; or as St. Augustine expresses it, ‘If you join together the initial letters of the five Greek words, ‘Ἰησοῦς, Χριστός Θεου, Υἱός Σωτήρ, which means Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, they will make ΙΧΘΥΣ, Fish.
I argue in Distorted Truths that using the precessional theory, the Age of Pisces corresponds to the Age of Heru in Kemetic astronomical-mythology or what has become known as astrology. Since the Fish became the dominant artistic and literary symbol during the Age of Heru, and because the early church leaders grafted Jesus onto Heru, they likewise adopted the Piscean symbolism. This is why early Christians called themselves Pisciculi, meaning “fishes.” Why, Nun, the Kemetic primeval waters, became the Christian term used for a female devotee. Furthermore, the church likened its first converts to fish, who when baptized were “returned to the sea of Christ.” When Christians went out to preach to sinners, they said they were “fishing.” James, John and Peter were all fishermen and Christ is called the Fisher of Men. Three fish were used to symbolize the Trinity. There is also the miracle of the two fishes and the five loaves of bread. According to the Gospels, Christ gave his disciples fish as part of the Eucharist. In Luke 11:29–32, when a Pharisees asks Jesus for a sign (of his ministry), he states: “This is a wicked generation. It demands a sign, and the only sign that shall be given it is the sign of Jonah.” Jonah was the Fish-Man of the Old Testament and by Jesus identifying himself with him, he is affirming he is a spirit or avatar of the Age of Pisces.
April 1 probably lingered in the West as Hilaria, and it is this holidays that has become the All Fools Day. In France, prior to 1582, the new year celebration lasted for eight days, beginning on March 25 and culminating on April 1, which approximates Hilaria. I would argue that rather than the more commonly accepted origin of April Fool's Day, this is the true origin. One of the traditional arguments for is origin involved a change in the calendar. That argument proffers that when January 1 was established as the new year, rather than April 1, those who refused to acknowledge the new date or simply forgot, received foolish gifts and invitations to nonexistent parties, on April 1. It is more likely, however, that April's Fools Day is just a survival of a ritual behavior associated with the spring festival of Cybele, particularly the last days' celebration called Hilaria. Again as in the case of Easter, the church consciously created a religious potpourri that merged the various celebrations and symbols of ancient cults onto Christianity in order to strengthen Christianity, while it supplanted the beliefs and practices of these cults, lumping them into the derogatory category known as paganism. So don't be fooled by this religious slight of hands, at least not on April 1.