A foolish bit of fun
Chances are that you’ve been the victim of a well-planned April Fool’s Day practical joke at some point in your life, or perhaps you’ve been the mastermind behind some epic gags over the years. But why do we do this? How did this all begin?
The origins of April Fool’s Day are a little murky. Some suggest it has to do with the celebration of the New Year, which used to take place on April 1. When Pope Gregory XIII replaced the old Julian calendar in 1582, he shifted the celebration of the New Year to January 1 instead. Legend has it that some people refused to follow the new Gregorian calendar—or perhaps just didn’t know about it—and continued to celebrate the start of a new year on the first of April. These unfortunate folks were mocked, tricked and made to run “fool’s errands”. Eventually the practice of playing practical jokes on unsuspecting friends on April 1 became a custom.1
Others suggest that the tradition has more to do with Mother Nature than a long-dead pope and his penchant for changing dates. April is known for being a fickle month with temperatures that can be warm one day and cool the next. Depending upon where you live, you may get snow and rain in the same day, and go from using an umbrella to shoveling your driveway within hours. The tricky and unpredictable change from winter to spring is, some say, what leads to the desire for a little fun and frivolity.2
One of the best-known April Fool’s Day pranks was successfully pulled off by the BBC TV program Panorama in 1957.3 They aired a fictitious story about spaghetti farmers from Ticino, Switzerland. The piece featured footage of their annual spaghetti harvest, showing women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from “spaghetti trees” and laying them in the sun to dry.
Hundreds of people called in to the show to ask about the mysterious spaghetti harvest, and to find out how to get their own spaghetti trees.
There are lots of ways to celebrate this fanciful day of trickery, and while we don’t advocate doing anything harmful to friends or neighbors—particularly since not everyone is fond of being the butt of practical jokes—we do think a little playful fun is in order!
- Instead of focusing on pranks, why not just joke around instead? Call up friends and family and tell them your very best joke. Call them every hour on the hour with a new joke so they understand that this is a day for laughs and fun! Check out Comedy Central for a huge list of jokes organized by category, or have a look at this Newslite list of the top 50 jokes as revealed by researchers.
- Make a fool, and then eat it! A fruit fool is a simple British dessert made of sweetened fruit and whipped cream. Visit Joy of Baking for some delicious variations and treat your family to a fool tonight!
- Learn a magic trick and wow your children or grandchildren. GoodTricks.net has some great, simple tricks that are easy to learn. Or visit Real Simple for three clever magic tricks you can easily master.
- Dress up! Wear a fake mustache, a wig, a wild hat or something outlandish that you picked up from a consignment shop. The idea is to startle your friends and family, then make them laugh like crazy!
- Read up on other people’s pranks. The Museum of Hoaxes lists 100 of the all-time greatest pranks, including the infamous spaghetti harvest incident of ’57.
However you decide to celebrate April Fool’s Day, enjoy the fun and frivolity of this nonsensical sort of day!
410869 CAN/US (04/15)