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1680s; April-gowk (from Old Norse gaukr "a cuckoo") is a northern variant. April Fool's Day customs of sending people on false errands seem to have come to England from France late 17c.; originally All Fool's Day (1712). In Cumberland, Westmorland and northern parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, however, May 1 was the day for hoaxing, and the fool was a May gosling. That custom was first attested 1791.