April Fool’s Day, which is also known as ‘All Fool’s Day’, is a day where people play tricks on each other.
Most tricks involve getting someone to believe something ridiculous, if only for a second. For example, if you tell them ‘there is a spider on your shoulder’ and, startled, they look to see if it’s true, it is then that you may shout out ‘April Fool’.
In some countries (eg, Ireland and Cyprus) the tradition goes that after 12 noon you can no longer play tricks. In the afternoon, whoever does play a trick becomes the fool. We think this scenario may have been designed by adults to give themselves a bit of a rest!!
One possibility is that the celebration originated in France when the Gregorian calendar was introduced by King Charles IX. Instead of the New Year’s celebrations starting on 25 March and ending on 1 April, as they had done previously, the New Year was moved to 1 January. Those that continued to celebrate the New Year in Spring, or simply forgot, became the butt of tricks and jokes and were called Poisson d’avril, meaning ‘April Fish’. This must have been so much fun that it spread all over the world and people played tricks on everyone, not just the people who didn’t accept the new calendar.
Some classic April’s Fool Jokes
- The BBC’s high-brow current affairs programme, Panorama, claimed that spaghetti grew on trees (it was broadcast many years ago in the days when spaghetti was considered an exotic foodstuff!)
- A full-page BMW car advertisement was run in 1986 , about their new car designed for driving between Great Britain and the Continent. It was both left and right hand drive, had pedals on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides, had a detachable steering wheel which could be affixed on either side as well as a full set of instruments on each side, the unused one being covered by a lovely walnut panel.
- A story that a new dinosaur had been discovered by the zoo was put out by The Isle of Wight County Press a couple of years ago. This dinosaur apparently had been found with the remains of a three-sided (not triangular-shaped, but actually three-sided) Roman coin in its stomach.
- Arthur Furguson was a rather remarkable conman who managed to sell Nelson’s Column for £6000, Big Ben for £1000, received a down payment of £2000 for Buckingham Palace, leased the White House for $100,000 a year and almost sold the Statue of Liberty for $100,000.
- On 1 April, 1980, a London radio station announced that low tide had caused the cancellation of hovercraft services from Heathrow airport. Heathrow airport is, of course, well inland.
Have fun with your jokes!!