April Fools' Day, or All Fools' Day, is the name given to the custom of
playing practical jokes on friends on that day, or sending them on
fools errands.  The origin of this custom has been much disputed; it is
in some way a relic of those once universal festivities held at the
vernal equinox, which, beginning on the old New Year's day, March 25,
ended on April 1.  Though April 1 appears to have been anciently observed 
in Great Britain as a general festival, it was apparently not until the 
beginning of the 18th century that the making of April fools was a common 
custom.  In Scotland the custom was known as "hunting the gowk", i.e., 
the cuckoo, and April fools were "April gowks", the cuckoo being there, 
as it is in most lands, a term of derision.  In France the person befooled 
is known as poisson d'avril.

	   Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood hysterian