April Fools’ Day is around the corner, and pranksters from around the world are preparing to perform this year’s jokes on April 1.

Thousands of pranks carried out on April Fools’ Day can be found in videos and posts around the web. Classic jokes include changing the language of a colleague’s computer, filling a hair dryer with talcum powder, wrapping the toilet seat with plastic film and covering a colleague’s desk with sticky notes.

April Fools' Day
April Fool’s Day joke. Image credit: Bored Panda.

The Telegraph has listed some of the most famous pranks in history on their website. One of them was played by the BBC in 1957, when they broadcasted a film about the “Swiss Spaghetti Harvest,” which consisted of Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti from the ground. The English broadcaster pranked viewers again in 2008, showing a clip of flying penguins and saying that the birds –which can’t fly- were escaping to tropical rainforests in South America. Another listed historic prank has been taking place since 1986, and it consists of press releases that are issued every year inviting people to the New York City April Fools’ Day Parade, which of course doesn’t exist.

Aprils Fools’ Day origin

There are several theories about the prank day origin. One of them is that it began in France in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered to change the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, according to the History Channel website. The change meant that New Year’s Day would be celebrated on January 1 and not at the end of March. Apparently, some people didn’t receive the news about the calendar change, and they celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1 as always. Those people were pranked by having paper fish put on their back with a sign that meant they’d been fooled.

Furthermore, medieval Catholics in England and France celebrated the “Feast of Fools” on January 1, according to The Washington Post. The Church attempted to ban the celebration in the 15th century, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

Pope Gregory XIII
Pope Gregory XIII. Image credit: Papal Artifacts.

Other theory points to a Greco-Roman holiday named Hilaria, celebrated on March 25. The holiday was celebrated by dressing in disguise and using jokes and hilarity to commemorate the resurrection of the god Attis and the coming of Spring and Cybele, a Greek deity.

According to Vox, the first public mention of a day that resembles April Fools came in 1708 when a correspondent wrote in the British Apollo magazine the following:

“Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?”

The name spread throughout Europe in the 18th century, and the custom for pranking and joking people on April 1 also spread. However, according to The Museum of Hoaxes, there is no evidence that the holiday originated from the Roman or the Gregorian theory.

The world love pranks

The prank holiday is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it has more presence in Western countries. In France, the holiday is called Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish,” following a long French custom that involves children taping a picture of a fish on the back of their friends. The custom is also known in Italy.

In Scotland, the holiday is known as Huntigowk Day, as a “gowk” is a foolish person in that country. The tradition started when a person was sent on a “foolish errand” to send a message that was nothing more than a written joke. In Iran, Aprils Fools’ Day is known as the Sizdah Bedar, and it marks the 13th day of the Persian New Year. The holiday has been celebrated since 536 BC by pranking relatives and friends. In India, the holiday is called the Holi festival, and it is celebrated on March 31 by throwing colored dust and wearing body paint to welcome spring.

Poisson d’Avril
Poisson d’Avril joke. Image credit: Pinterest.

Source: The Telegraph