The “April Fools’ Day” is equivalent in the US to the “Day of the Innocents”, it is a date that has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures on April 1 of each year. But if you have not lived it, it is likely that you still have a notion of this particular day for having seen it in movies, series or cartoons.
Traditions of this “Fool’s Day” include tricking or playing practical jokes on others, often shouting “April’s Fools!” at the end to give a clue about the subject of the joke. And although it is an ancient celebration, the acceptance of the jokes of this day, by the media and major brands, has ensured the long life of the holiday.
The origin of April Fools’ Day
The truth is that the history of this day is shrouded in mystery and there are several theories about it, some related to a change in the calendar and others to an ancient Roman holiday, among others. These are some of the origins that experts consider.
Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as requested by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the equinox spring around April 1.
So, people who were slow to hear the news or who failed to recognize that the start of the year had been moved to January 1 continued to celebrate the New Year during the last week of March until April 1.
For that reason, confused people became the butt of jokes and were called “April’s Fools”. These pranks included placing paper fish on their backs and calling them “poisson d’avril” (April fish), which supposedly symbolized a young, easy-to-catch fish, that is, a gullible person.
Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to the Hilaria (“joyful” in Latin) festivals, which were celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March by followers of the cult of Cybele. In them, the people who dressed up and made fun of other citizens and magistrates. In addition, it was said that the holiday was inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth.
On the other hand, it is speculated that April Fools’ Day was linked to the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with unpredictable and changeable weather.
The mass of the Day of the Innocents
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In fact, in Scotland, the tradition grew into a two-day event, beginning with the “gowk hunt” activity, in which people were sent out on fake errands (gowk is a word for “crazy bird”, which symbolized a “fool”). And the other thing that was done was the Tailie Day, which involved pranks on people’s butts, putting fake tails or signs that said “kick me” (Kick me).
As the years went by, people started to get more creative around the jokes, going to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. So much so, that newspapers, radio and television stations, and websites have also participated in the April 1 tradition, reporting outrageous fictional stories to mislead their audiences.
In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti harvest and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees. While, in 1985, the writer of Sports IllustratedGeorge Plimpton misled many readers with a fabricated article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who was capable of throwing a fastball at over 168 miles per hour.
In 1992, National Public Radio ran an ad in which former President Richard Nixon said he was running for president again… but it was an actor, not Nixon, and the segment was actually an April Fools’ Day prank that took the country by storm.
Four years later, the Taco Bell fast-food restaurant chain misled people when it announced that it would buy the Liberty Bell (Liberty Bell) of Philadelphia, with the intention of changing the name to Taco Liberty Bell. And in 1998, Burger King announced a “Left-Handed Whopper,” with many customers requesting the fake sandwich.
Even tech giant Google runs an annual April Fools’ Day prank, and it can encompass anything from offering a “telepathic search” to the option to play games. Pac Man on Google Maps.
Either way, there are always people who keep the spirits playful every April 1, whether it’s with an elaborate prank, something classic like swapping sugar for salt, or a more harmless joke, like breaking the news to loved ones. .