April Fools Day is celebrated worldwide. Practical jokes and hoaxes are the primary means to celebrate this holiday. The holiday provides a relief value for people to express sentiments they might not have expressed any other day. It also gives people opportunities to play practical jokes on unsuspecting people. Everyone can participate in this celebration.

Some Fun Facts about April Fools Day

On April 1st everyone is permitted to act foolish. April Fools Day is also known as All Fools Day. The tradition of fun and harmless pranks is an unwritten rule. Practical jokes and hoaxes can be elaborate or simple. The basic premise is to make the person believe in something that is non-existent or perform tasks that make them feel foolish.

The United States, Europe, Canada, Brazil and Australia make this holiday a popular one for its citizens.

History of April Fools Day

April Fools Day has its origins in antiquity. Some historians speculate that the observation of the holiday began in 1582. This year is significant because it was when France switched its calendar from Julian to Gregorian per the edict at the Council of Trent in 1563. The information about the change was slow to reach those affected, so they continued to celebrate the New Year as they always celebrated in late March and early April.

These people were ridiculed for continuing the celebration despite the change to January 1st. One of the symbols used was a paper fish and people wearing this fish were called “poisson d’avril” (April fish). The symbol marked the person as a gullible and easily swayed person.

One explanation for April Fools Day that has its origins in nature is the explanation that April Fools Day is tied to the vernal equinox. Late March and early April are known for changeable weather patterns. The changeable weather patterns often provided people with opportunities to play practical jokes and blame it on Mother Nature.

The April Fools Day celebrations didn’t really catch on with the British Isles until the 18th century. British congregations that followed the Flood story related the fruitless mission of an European crow known as a rook sent from Noah’s Ark in search of land. In Scotland the celebration lasted two days. The first day was called “Huntigowk” day. The second day was called “Tailie Day.”

Ancient festivals celebrated the first day of spring in early April. The Hilaria festival celebrated in Rome at the end of March has been linked to the April Fools Day celebration.

Customs and Traditions Associated with April Fools Day

The Office prank

April Fools Day customs are pretty uniform with the purpose being to fool others into believing something that doesn’t exist or doing a phony task. The most common tradition associated with April Fools Day is that any pranks should end at noon on April 1st. This tradition is practiced in England and Canada. The belief is that any pranks performed after noon brings bad luck on the perpetrator.

Scotland’s Huntigowk Day is known for hunting the gowk, a cuckoo bird that symbolizes the fool. On this day people are sent on phony errands with funny and sometimes outrageous results. The following day, known as Tailie Day provides opportunities to stick funny sayings, fake tails and “kick me” signs on people’s derrieres.

April Fools Day celebrations often take the form of false tales. The tradition of telling false tales is one that Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway practice. In Poland, it is a well-known fact in 1683 that an anti-Turkish alliance was signed with Leopold I a day early on March 31st.

In Italy, Belgium, France and Quebec, Canada the custom of placing a paper fish on someone’s back without being noticed is a traditional joke.

Memorable Hoaxes and Pranks

April Fools Day will forever be associated with hoaxes played on unsuspecting people. The most memorable hoax is the one played by the BBC in 1957. Reporters from the BBC showed footage from what they referred to as a “spaghetti crop.” In the footage spaghetti noodles hung from trees and people were seen harvesting them.

Radio personalities quite often get into the act. One year radio personalities from CHEZ FM fooled people into believing that the Canadian treasury would stop honoring newly issued two dollar bills. Frantic calls to local banks and the Canadian Mint set people straight.

Taco Bell’s supposed purchase of the Liberty Bell in 1996 caused a stir. Burger King got in on the fun in 1998 when they advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper.”

Pranks and practical jokes are actually a good way to release tension. This age old holiday offers the perfect release value for those who are feeling particularly stressed. Children and adults find pleasure in these activities.

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