Why does April Fools' Day end at noon? The case for 24 hours of pranking

There are two schools of thought when it comes to how long April Fools' Day should last – one that suggests a noon cutoff for all pranking activity, and one that says this "rule" is stupid.

It's called April Fools' Day, not 'April Fools' Morning'

Should Canadians be cutting April Fools' Day short based on what is believed to be a centuries-old British custom? The jury is out. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

There are two schools of thought when it comes to how long April Fools' Day should last – one that suggests a noon cutoff for all pranking activity, and another that says this "rule" is stupid.

People who believe April Fools' Day ends at noon will contend that prank victims are only "fools" if they fall for a trick early in the day. After that, the fools become those who try to carry out pranks.

Others say that lighthearted trickery is acceptable for a full 24 hours. It's April Fools' Day, after all, not April Fools' Morning (or April Fools' Week, despite what tech companies and marketing agencies may lead you to believe with their elaborate online "pranks.")

While much has been written about the origins of this tradition, the rules surrounding how one participates are vague and tend to vary by culture. 

The U.K. and countries whose traditions derived from the U.K. generally relegate April Fools' Day activities to the morning hours, according to a 1959 study by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie.

"The source of Britain's [noon] deadline might be the 17th century's well-named Shig-Shag day, when celebrants put oak sprigs in their hats to show loyalty to the monarchy, in reference to Charles II's hiding in an oak tree," wrote Archie Bland of the British newspaper The Independent in a 2009 feature about the origins of April 1 pranks. "Those who failed to observe the custom could only be ridiculed until midday."

"These days, anyone who plays a prank after noon is supposedly an 'April fool' themselves." Bland continued. "This nice observation may not seem so crucial to anyone who has been custard pied at 12.01 p.m., but it distinguishes our version of the ritual from that found in other countries."

While Canada does have some traditions rooted in British culture, the people of our country are unique, diverse and independent.

Should we really be cutting our own hours of tomfoolery short based on what is believed to be a centuries-old English custom? 

We posed the question to CBC News audience members on Facebook and Twitter, and it appears Canadians are divided.

Many on Facebook remarked that adhering to a noon cutoff just isn't practical for those who work mornings (or sleep through them, for that matter.)

"Twenty-four hours. Noon?! Seriously? My day doesn't start before noon," wrote Alysia Anderson.

Jessica Lynn O'Grady agreed, writing "LOL not everybody's schedule runs on 9-5 like most people... Some people are still sleeping by noon so yeah, all day. Can't handle it? Too bad."

Wes Hegg defended his point with science: "April Fools' Day is 24 hours in length... unless someone plans on stopping the Earth mid-spin at which point worldwide catastrophes will ensue," he wrote.

"Why would it be called a 'day' if it ended at noon?" asked Lorette Yip. "Is that when your birthday, Xmas, New Years Day, etc. end? Come on!"

Howard Ross's theory? "Pretty sure the half day rule was instituted by simple teachers who kept falling for the same lame setups from students."

Of course, the noon-rule also had its defenders — particularly on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on April Fools' Day ending at 12 p.m.? Weigh in via the comments below. 


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