April fools across the world
April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, in most countries the first day of April. It received its name from the custom of playing practical jokes on this day—for example, sending friends on so-called fools’ errands.
On April 1, 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other. Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery.
By tradition, in some countries, April 1 or April Fools’ Day is marked by practical jokes. Notable practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and have even been done in large crowds.
Today, the holiday is stylized both as April Fool’s Day, emphasizing an April fool as a singular concept, and April Fools’ Day, indicating plural April fools, whether the people or the pranks.
Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.
Another theory suggests that April 1st became the fool’s holiday due to Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century collection, The Canterbury Tales, wherein Chaucer includes a playful reference to “32 March,” or April 1st. However, most scholars consider it to have been a mere copying error.
After the crazy events of the past year we all need a good laugh. Here are some of the best April Fools’ Day pranks so far;