The real origins of April Fool’s Day are shrouded in mystery, although historians agree that it most likely spawned from a few different sources.
The ancient Roman festival, Hilaria, took place in late March, typically the day after the Spring Equinox. It means “Day of Joy,” and was a celebration of the passing of winter. People would dress up and impersonate others, play games, and overall have a day filled with amusements.
A celebration of spring, Holi is the Hindu Festival of Colors. The holiday falls on the day after the last full moon in Phalguna, the Hindu month that coincides with February and March on the Western calendar. Holi is known for its bonfires, spraying of bright powders and colored water, and the relaxation of traditional social codes.
A Jewish holiday celebrated on the 14th of Adar, which falls in late winter or early spring. The festival celebrates the salvation of the Jews from Haman in the time of ancient Persia.
In medieval Europe, the Feast of Fools was held every January. It was a day of games, extravagance, and fun. Popular in France, a “pope” would be elected, and parodies of the church and government would be held.
During the mid-16th century, Europe started moving to the modern calendar, which begins on January 1st. Previous to this, the new year began on or about April 1st. Although a nation decree informed citizens of the change, many never got the memo. Those that continued to celebrate the beginning of the year in April were often poked fun of and sent of “fool’s errands” throughout the day. Hence the now All Fool’s Day, also known as April Fool’s.
Everyone loves a good prank, and the media is no different. These are some of the funniest, most long-lasting pranks of the past century.
In 1957, the BBC aired a documentary on the successful harvest of the year’s Spaghetti trees. They explained how with the elimination of the Spaghetti Weevil, harvested crops were better than expected. With footage of dozens of people harvesting spaghetti from trees, people started hounding the BBC, wanting to know where they could get their own spaghetti trees.
The year was 1962, and the Swedish National Television Company decided it wanted all of its citizens to have the luxury of color TV. The company ran a five minute special, complete with scientific explanations, on how stretching nylons over top of a black and white TV instantly turned it to color. Nylon sales soared.
Blame it on the BBC again, but in 1976, Sir Patrick Moore got on the radio and started talking about planetary alignment. He explained to the public how Jupiter and Pluto were going to align at specifically at 9:47 AM, and how this phenomenon would cause a decrease in the Earth’s gravitational pull. People called in, excited and exalted about how they were lighter and experienced “floating” around.
In 1980, it was reported by WNAC-TV that the Great Blue Hill over Boston was erupting and lava was headed towards the town of Milton, Massachusetts. Although the broadcast ended with a newscaster holding a sign that said “April Fool,” people apparently weren’t looking at the television at that point because they were too busy packing up their belongings, and heading out of town. The prank caused such a ruckus when people starting to evacuate the city, the executive producer of the news channel was fired.
If you’re looking for an easy April Fool’s prank to pull on your friends, family, or coworkers, try on one of these for size.
Glue a quarter to the floor in the office lunch room. Now sit back and watch as person after person comes in, sees it, and tries to pick it up. You’ll be giggling all day.
Get up before everyone else in your household, and set the clocks two hours ahead of time. As people wake up, they’ll be panicked that they over slept, running around getting ready in a rush, only to step outside, and realize it’s still dark.
Find a rubber band, and secure it inconspicuously around the sprayer on the kitchen sink. Watch, because every time someone turns on the facet, water from the sprayer’s going to smack them in the face. Just don’t forget about it yourself, or you’ll be wet too.
Get a dollar bill, and an old piece of cloth. Place the money on the floor where others can see it. When someone bends down to pick it up, rip the old piece of cloth. Watch each person stand up, and reach around, thinking they ripped out the back of their pants.