What is April Fools Day and how did it begin? April Fools Days History & best harmless April Fools Day Pranks / tricks.
The first of April, some do say, April The 1st is set apart for All Fools' Day. But why the people call it so, Nor I, nor they themselves do know. But on this day are people sent on purpose for pure merriment.
Poor Robin's Almanac (1790)
This verse is recorded in Poor Robin's Almanack in 1760 and echoes the general feeling about April Fools' Day before and since.
What is April Fools Day and how did it begin?
The origin of this holiday is rather uncertain. However, the common belief holds that during the reformation of the calendar the date for the New Year was moved from April 1st to January 1st.
Back in sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April 1. It was celebrated much like we celebrate New Year's Eve is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night.
In 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first.
During that time in history there was no television or radio so word spread slowly. There were also those who chose to simply ignore the change and those who merely forgot. These people were considered "fools" and invitations to non-existent parties and other practical jokes were played on them.
"All Fools' Day" is practiced in many parts of the world with practical jokes and sending people on a fool's errand. Others believe that the origin began with celebrations at the Spring Equinox. Pranks are suppose to end by noon and those done afterwards are suppose to bring bad luck to the perpetrator.
April Fools Days History
The custom of playing practical jokes on friends was part of the celebrations in ancient Rome on March 25 (Hilaria) The timing seems related to the vernal equinox and the coming of spring a time when nature fools us with sudden changes between showers and sunshine.
In England, tricks can be played only in the morning.
If a trick is played on you, you are a "noodle".
Widespread observance in England began in the 18th century.
In Scotland, April Fools Day is 48 hours long and you are called an "April Gowk", which is another name for a cuckoo bird.
The second day is called Taily Day and is dedicated to pranks involving the buttocks. Taily Day's gift to posterior posterity is the still-hilarious "Kick Me" sign.
In France, the April Fool's is called "April Fish" (Poisson d'Avril).
The French fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs and when someone discovers this trick, they yell "Poisson d'Avril!"
Dia de los Santos Inocentes is held in Spain on December 28th.
This is The Feast of the Holy Innocents.
It is celebrated similarily to April Fool's Day, with practical jokes.
The English, Scotch and French introduced the custom to their colonies in America.
One of our forefathers' favorite jokes was to send someone on a "fool's errand."
For example, one might have been asked to go out and obtain a copy of "The History of Adam's Grandfather," or bring back some "sweet vinegar."
The "foolish" tradition is celebrated in Mexico, too, but on a different day and for different reasons.
"El Dia de los Inocentes," which is December 28, was set aside as a day for Christians to mourn Herod's slaughter of innocent children.
Over time, the tone of that "unluckiest of days" has evolved from sadness to good-natured trickery.
Some particularly well-known April Fool’s Day hoaxes include:
- Kremvax: one of the early Internet April Fool’s day hoaxes. Kremvax was originally a fictitious Usenet site at the Kremlin, named like the then large number of Usenet VAXen with names of the form foovax. Kremvax was announced on April 1, 1984 in a posting ostensibly originated there by Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko.
- San Serriffe: The Guardian printed a supplement featuring this fictional island (a reference to “sans-serif”, a family of typefaces).
- Smell-o-vision: The BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odour over the airwaves to all viewers. Despite the fact that no such capability existed, many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial’s success.
- Spaghetti trees: The BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. A lot of people wanted trees of their own.
- Metric time: Repeated several times in various countries over the year, this hoax claims that the time system will be changed to some system where one subdivision is some power of 10 smaller than the next. The idea to metricise time was suggested in France after the French Revolution: see French Revolutionary Calendar.
- Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news once reported that the famous Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked and even mourning people contacted the television studio.
- Television licence: In another year the Dutch television news reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions (at that time, households had to pay for a television licence) by simply driving through the streets with a new detector. The only way to avoid your television from being detected, was to pack the television in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.
- Sidd Finch: George Plimpton worte an article in Sports Illustrated about a New York Mets prospect who could throw a fastball at 176 mph. This kid was known as “Barefoot” Sidd Finch. He reportedly learned to throw a ball that fast in a Buddhist monastery, and also threw a javelin a quarter of a mile at the British Olympic tryouts. Plimpton said the boy refused to go to the Olympics for fear of hurting someone. Barefoot Sidd was later the subject of a moderately successful book.
- Radio Station “Power 106”: A Los Angeles radio station “announced” a change from pop to disco music at 7:00 AM, April 1, (1993?). After 12 hours they admitted it was a joke, and switched back to their standard playlist. Within minutes complaints rolled in of “where’s the disco?”, and the station actually changed formats the next day (and kept disco for a year or two).
- Australian Radio Station Triple J: On April 1, 1999, breakfast show co-host Adam Spencer told us he had a journalist on the line from overseas where there had just been a secret 9 hour IOC meeting and that Sydney had lost the 2000 Olympic Games. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr was also in on the joke. The story was picked up by mainstream media (including Channel 9’s Today show) before Adam revealed the truth.
Ten Funny, Interesting and Thought-Provoking "April Fool" Quotes
- Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. - Chinese Proverb
- If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings. - Welsh Proverb
- We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb
- Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools. - Irish Proverb
- Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It's good to be silly at the right moment. - Horace [65 BC - 8 BC]
- It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly. - Anatole France [1844 - 1924]
- The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes. - Winston Churchill
- What a fool does in the end, the wise do in the beginning. - Spanish Proverb
- For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. - Alexander Pope
- A fool may have his coat embroidered with gold, but it is a fool's coat still. - Antoine Rivarol
A FOOL'S DICTIONARY
April Fool: A person successfully tricked on 1st April.
Fool: A person who acts unwisely or imprudently, a stupid person, a jester/clown. One who acts in a joking/teasing way.
Fool's Cap: A cap with bells attached worn by jesters.
Act the Fool: Behave in a silly way.
Fool's Errand: A fruitless venture.
Fool's Gold: Iron pyrites, often mistaken for gold.
Fool's Paradise: Happiness founded on a illusion.
Fool's Parsley: A species of hemlock resembling parsley.
Playing the Fool: To act like the idiot or foolishly.
Tomfoolery: Foolish behaviour, nonsence.
Trompe-l'oeil: A still-life painting, designed to give a illusion of reality. Literally 'deceives the eye'.
Foolery: Foolish behaviour/a foolish act.
Foolhardy: Rashly or foolishly bold, reckless.