April Fools’ Day on April 1st has long been a day when practical jokes and tricks are played on the unaware. It’s a time when children convince their parents they’ve broken a bone. Parents get in on the planning, too. Classic April Fools’ jokes include caramel covered onions or fake doggy doo-doo in inconvenient places. Businesses launch impractical or unbelievable products for the fun of the day and newspapers print incredible headlines catching readers off guard.
Of course, the trick to a good April Fools’ prank is planning. And you also need to be the first to pull it off. There’s no point in pursuing your prank if someone else beats you to it. Once the foolery has been triggered, everyone else will be on high alert and the element of surprise will be lost.
Some practical jokers go to great lengths to pull off their ruse. The more people involved the greater the risk of being discovered before the great plan can be deployed.
APRIL FOOLS’ DAY HISTORY
We would be fools to think we knew precisely when April Fools’ Day was originally celebrated. However, April Fools Day shares similarities with other days full of fools, tricks, and merry-making.
Some believe the day is celebrated in honor of the trickery Mother Nature plays on us this time of year with her unpredictable weather. Another possible connection is the Indian tradition of Holi. The day is celebrated on March 31st and practices the same foolery as April Fools’ Day. So does the Roman festival of Hilaria which was celebrated on March 25th.
The earliest known reference to April Fools’ Day is in Chaucer’s 1392 Nun’s Priest’s Tale. Even so, the reference is so vague, and possibly not even occurring on the first of April, leaving doubt as to whether it is the first reference.
Other scholars point to the reformation of the calendar by Pope Gregory and the Gregorian calendar we used today in the 1500s in France. The new year would take place in April, not January as it does now. The theory is that those who continued to celebrate the new year on April 1st were called Poisson d’Avril (April fish) and pranks would be played on them.
In 1582, France accepted the Gregorian calendar, but reforms had already been taking place.
In Britain in 1776, there is a clear and reliable reference to April foolishness in an article in Gentlemans Magazine. Reference to a custom in the kingdom of making fools of people on the first day of April. It addresses the day being the culmination of an eight-day feast and the beginning of a new year.
Newspapers, television, radio and social media have had their fun on April Fools’ Day. Check out all this April 1 foolishness:
- Times of London reported in 1992 that Belgium was negotiating to join Holland.
- The Evening Star of Islington advertised in 1864 a display of donkeys at the Agricultural Hall the next day. Those who arrived early soon realized who the donkeys on display really were.
- In 1950, The Progress in Clearfield Pennsylvania published a picture of a UFO flying over the town. Claiming to have “scooped” larger publications of the first-ever published picture of a real flying saucer.
- In 2008, the BBC presented a documentary on flying penguins.
HOW TO OBSERVE #AprilFoolsDay
Prepare your best pranks and practical jokes. Share stories of your greatest April Fools’ jokes. Be safe playing your pranks and be sure to have a good laugh. It’s all in fun. Use #AprilFoolsDay to post on social media.