The belief is April’s Fools Day started on April 1st in 1700. This was when English jokesters initiated the first practical jokes. Although nobody knows exactly where the idea began, numerous cultures have been playing jokes on this day for centuries. Some people believe April’s Fools Day did not start until 1582. This was was France started using the Gregorian calendar as opposed to the Julian calendar.
The people unaware the calendar had been changed were celebrating the New Year on April 1st. Pranks and hoaxes were then played on these people for the laughter of others. Another theory relates to the 1392 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The Nun’s Priest Tale takes place on March 32nd. Some historians believe the tale referred to April 1st. The story was about making people feel foolish.Read More »
There are cultures all over the world celebrating spring on or around April 1st. Every March, the Holi festival is celebrated by the Hindus in celebration of spring. The Hilaria festival was celebrated on March 25th by the ancient Romans for the same reason. There are hoaxes performed on April Fool’s Day so elaborate they have literally gone down in history.
Another belief is April’s Fools Day originated because of a history professor at Boston University named Joseph Boskin. He believed the April 1st tradition started when the Roman emperor Constantine was informed by fools and jesters they could run the kingdom better than the emperor. Constantine believed the idea was funny so he appointed the jester Kugel as the king for a single day.
During this day, the jester passed an absurdity edit which eventually became a yearly event every April 1st. According to Joseph Boskin, the day the jester ruled was actually serious. He believed the jesters during this time were wise men. The purpose of the jesters and fools was to provide balance through laughter to keep everything in proper perspective.
In 1983, newspapers published this theory in an Associated Press article. The problem was, everything was invented by Joesph Boskin. Within a few weeks, the AP figured out they were the victims of a great April Fool’s Day prank. Despite the nonsense of this story, some people still believe this was how the day began.
The Best April’s Fools Day Hoaxes of All Time
The Taco Liberty Bell: The United States was experiencing a difficult time in 1986 due to the national deficit. This was when an announcement was made by Taco Bell the company had purchased the Liberty Bell to help. The famous bell was to be renamed the Taco Liberty Bell. The result was thousands of calls by citizens complaining about this injustice.
Within a matter of hours, Taco Bell admitted the company was simply playing a practical joke. As the press secretary for the White House at the time, Mike McCurry had already been asked by reporters to find out what was going on. His response was a prank of his own. He said the Lincoln Memorial had also been purchased and would now be called the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
The Left-Handed Whopper: Burger King got into the action in 1998 with an ad in USA Today. The ad stated the left-handed whopper had been created for left-handed individuals. All of the condiments were rotated precisely 180 degrees. The funny part was before Burger King admitted the next day the burger was a hoax, thousands of people had already tried to order the new burger.
Swiss Spaghetti Trees: In 1957, the Panorama news program from the BBC made an announcement the spaghetti crop harvest by Swiss farmers was exceptional due to the spaghetti weevil being eliminated. The news showed peasants in Switzerland harvesting spaghetti right from the trees. So many viewers believed the story they called in to find out how spaghetti trees are grown.
April Fool’s Day Across the Globe
April Fool’s Day is celebrated all over the world. In France, the term poisson d’avril is used to describe anyone who was pranked. The translation is April fish. The most common prank in France is pinning a fish made of paper to someone’s back. In Brazil, the day is called Lie Day or Dia da Mentira. Brazilians attempt to trick their loved ones to make everyone laugh.
April’s Fools Day in Scotland is known as Gowk Day—gowk which is a symbol of the fool. The day ends on April 2nd when a kick me sign or a paper tail is attached to a friend’s back.
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