April Fool’s Day

Observed on the first day of April, April Fool’s Day is a day in which people play practical jokes and good-natured pranks on each other. After a person plays a joke, prank, or hoax on their unknowing victim on this day, they will then expose their intentions by shouting at them “April Fools!” Although it’s not an official holiday in most of the countries where it’s observed, it has been popular for over 200-years. As far as we know, the only place where it is a public holiday is in Odessa, Ukraine. In that city, it’s an official city holiday. 

The History Of April Fool’s Day

Many historians believe that this day can be traced directly to the Hilaria Festivals that were celebrated during the Vernal Equinox in Rome. However, since this festival occurred in March, many people believe that the earliest recording of this day came from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392. This edition is a story about a vain cock being tricked by a crafty fox on April 1st. Hence, spawning the practice of playing practical jokes on this day.

In the early 16th century, there is a reference to Poisson d’avril (literally meaning April’s Fish) by French poet Eloy d’Amerval. Some writers assert that this was the first reference to April Fool’s Day in France. It’s also been posited that April Fool’s Day began during the Middle Ages in France and had a lot to do with moving New Year’s Day. In the Middle Ages, New Years’ Day began on Easter, but that changed when Charles IX issued the Edict of Roussillon—an edict that said that the New Year would now begin on January 1st. Since Easter is a holiday on a lunar calendar and therefore changes its date, people who still observed New Years’ on Easter were considered April Fools. 

However, not everyone believes that the Edict of Roussillon was the beginning of April Fool’s Day. In the Netherlands, this holiday has been attributed to the 1572 Dutch victory at Brielle. This is where Duke Alvarez de Toledo, a Spanish Duke was defeated. This accounts for the Dutch proverb which when translated into English says: “On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses.” Since glasses in Dutch are called “bril,” the glasses in the saying are a homonym for the city of Brielle. 

April Fool Days Trivia

Over the years, some pretty fascinating pranks have been accomplished on April Fool’s Day, so we decided it might be a good idea to cover some of these events, as well as other facts about this holiday that we’ve uncovered about this holiday. So, if you’re ready for some facts, read on. We promise that we won’t pull any April Fool’s Day pranks on you.

The BBC April Fool’s Day Prank

Believe it or not, even the BBC got in on an April Fool’s Day prank in 1957. That year, they reported that Swiss farmers had a record spaghetti crop. They even showed footage of people picking spaghetti noodles from trees!

The Sports Illustrated Prank

Sports Illustrated had their own prank in 1985 when they ran a fictitious article by George Plimpton that talked about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch. According to the story, the pitcher had a fastball of over 168-miles per hour!

The Taco Bell Prank

Taco Bell thought a good way to get some good publicity was to run their own prank in 1996. In this prank, they said that they had purchased Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended on renaming it to the Taco Liberty Bell. 

The Burger King Prank

Two years after Taco Bell had their Liberty Bell prank, Burger King did a Left-Handed Whopper prank. They advertised this special whopper and many customers began to ask for it. 

Google’s April Fool’s Day Pranks

Over the years, Google has had its own April Fool’s Day pranks. Almost too many of them to list all of them here. In 2002, it was the release of the Pigeon Rank system and in 2009, Google Maps had a feature that allowed people to play Snake in several different cities. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they temporarily suspended their April Fool’s Day prank and instead focused on relief efforts related to the pandemic. 

April Fool’s Day Observations & Customs

In France, April 1st is also known as Poisson d’avril – or April Fish. On this day, people attempt to attach paper fish to the backs of unsuspecting friends and colleagues. This practice can be traced back to the nineteenth century, as evidenced by the many postcards from that time depicting the practice.  In the United States, people often try to scare, or fool, unsuspecting friends and family members using a variety of different techniques. In Ireland, a letter is often given to an unsuspecting person on April Fool’s Day to be delivered to another person. When the person carrying the letter arrives at his destination, then the next person sends them someplace else because the note inside the envelope reads, “Send the fool even further.”