April 1 was celebrated as the
start of the New Year under the Julian Calendar because
it occurred during the European celebration of the Feast
of Annunciation. In non-European cultures, the New Year
observance occurred around the same time in observance
of the Vernal Equinox (March 21).
In medieval times the Gregorian calendar
was introduced. Pope Gregory's calendar placed New Year's
Day on January 1, but many countries refused to change
tradition and did not adopt the new calendar for hundreds
Following widespread adoption of the new
calendar by the mid-1800s, All Fools' Day became popular
in 18th-century England as a day for playing foolish
pranks; the prankster's holiday spread to the US with
English culture and tradition, and today continues as
a popular joke-playing day in both countries as well
as many other nations.
Internet Hoaxes Skyrocket on April 1
A number of Internet hoaxes have occurred
on April 1 - including some not-so-funny computer attacks.
Virus-related pranks and spoofs wreak havoc on home and business
systems silently infected weeks beforehand by attachments
transported via mail messages or other files; these silent villian bits of code are carefully
timed to activate on April 1 and to propagate themselves.
In the 1980's and 1990's, many business
networks were routinely disconnected from
external connections on April 1 as a brute-force preventative
measure against hacker intrusions or other malicious
network-dependent activities. Nowadays most businesses and individuals
protect their computers 24/7 with firewalls, anti-virus software
and company security training programs.