Spring has sprung and with it all sorts of celebrations, festivals and traditions.

All over the world today, pranks and practical jokes will be played. It is, after all, April Fools’ Day. Which got me to wondering…why today?

April Fools’ Day has been observed for centuries, but its origin is still unclear. The most popular theory is that it comes from calendar reformation in 16th century France, when the start of the new year was moved from the end of March/beginning of April to 1 January. Hence, pranks were played on people – called Poisson D’Avril – who refused to get with the times and still celebrated new year on 1 April. Those silly backward April Fishes!

Here is the Guardian’s round-up of today’s best hoaxes.

Also at this time of year we get Mother’s Day, the history of which is more certain. In the UK, the fourth Sunday in Lent has traditionally been Mothering Sunday, a Christian festival to celebrate the Virgin Mary and the mother church.

Yet it was American feminists who promoted the idea of celebrating women and motherhood, leading to our current tradition. We stuck with the date of our original festival, but in the US and much of the rest of the world, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. So if you forget to send a card this weekend, pretend you’re American/Icelandic/German/Chilean/Jamaican…

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