I know in the US April Fools goes on all day. In the UK though, if we fool somebody after midday we’re the fool. Does anybody know how that idea got started?
I have no definitive answer, but I can confirm this notion is long established in the UK as I remember asking this question of my mother and grandmother when I was a child, and they said it had always been like that (‘always’ here of course only definitely means since their childhood, but in the case of my now late grandmother, that’s about a century before today).
I dislike posting a WAG at this early stage in the thread, but it seems to me that it might be along the same lines as saying ‘white rabbits’ (or pinch and a punch’) first thing on the first day of the month - which I suppose to be rooted in the notion that it’s only cool if you did something first, rather than copying others or jumping on a bandwagon.
This article has some rather more reasoned, although still largely speculative answers:
I’m British and 30-mumble years old and I’ve never heard of this…
Oh. OH! Well played, sir. Bit late, but that only makes it funnier.
(Okay, I’m sure you’re both being completely serious, the Indy article too, but work with me here).
It makes sense culturally. 1/2 day of foolishness per year is about all the Brits could stand. And the Yanks of course have to take any idea and not only do it, but overdo it. So they bumped the traditional half day up to a full day as soon as the smoke had cleared after the Revolution.
In Texas where everything is even bigger than that, they have Fool’s Month. 12 of 'em in fact. How else to explain Ted Cruz, GWB, Rick Perry, etc.?