April Fools’ Day is celebrated every year on 1st April by playing pranks, practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes expose their prank by shouting April Fool. Some newspapers, magazines, and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392) contains the first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness.
The Origin Of April Fool’s Day
The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbor is recognized everywhere in the world. Some precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria.
Bertha R. McDonald, in Harper’s Weekly explicated an origin of April Fools’ Day, stating that some “authorities gravely back with it to the time of Noah and the ark, and the London Public Advertiser of March 13, 1769, prints the following paragraph concerning this theory: ‘The mistake of Noah sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of April, and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the patriarch’.
In the Netherlands, the origin of April Fools’ Day is often attributed to the Dutch victory at Brielle in 1572, where the Spanish Duke Álvarez de Toledo was defeated. “Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril.” is a Dutch proverb, which can be translated to: “On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses.” In this case, the glasses (“bril” in Dutch) serve as a metaphor for Brielle. This theory, however, provides no explanation for the international celebration of April Fools’ Day.
April Fools’ Day Pranks
As people playing pranks on one another on April Fools’ Day, elaborate practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and have been performed by large corporations. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. On April Fools’ Day 2016, online football news channel Goal.com falsely reported that FC Barcelona winger Lionel Messi agreed to a €500 million deal to sign with Real Madrid for five years. The reporter’s name used in the article was “Lirpa Loof”, which is “April Fool” spelled backwards.
With the advent of the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ pranks can catch and embarrass a much wider audience than ever before.
Books, films, telemovies and television episodes have used April Fool’s Day as their title or inspiration. Examples include Bryce Courtenay’s novel April Fool’s Day (1993), whose title refers to the day Courtenay’s son died. The popular 1990’s sitcom Roseanne featured an episode titled “April Fools’ Day.” This turned out to be intentionally misleading, as the episode was about Tax Day in the United States on April 15 – the last day to submit the previous year’s tax information.
Finally, I will be dropping recharge cards PINs on my Blog today in celebration of the Fools’ day.