The first of April is April Fools’ Day, a day on which pranksters all over the world thrive.
We’ve all celebrated the great tradition of April Fools’, playing practical jokes on others for a cheap chuckle. But why does this tradition exist and how did it originate?
The history of April Fools’ Day is a bit of a mystery but there are several different theories for how it got started.
Some believe that it comes from an ancient Roman festival called Hilaria, which was celebrated near the start of April. Hilaria called for all sorts of amusements and game – including masquerades and imitations.
Others claim that it originated back in 16th century France when King Charles IX decreed to celebrate New Year on January 1st instead of observing it on Easter, which is subject to the Lunar-based calendar. The people who refused to adapt to the change and the people who were unaware of it were considered fools.
There is also speculation that it was first celebrated in the 14th century, based on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which consists of the story, ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ that hints references to a day of foolery and trickery.
Whatever the true origins of April Fools’ Day may be, one thing is for certain. Many tricksters have gone to great lengths to participate in the April 1 tradition.
Newspapers, radio and TV stations and websites have all taken it to the next level by playing outrageous tricks on their audiences.
In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees. In 1985, Sports Illustrated writer George Plimpton tricked many readers when he ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
In 1992, National Public Radio ran a spot with former President Richard Nixon saying he was running for president again. The actor playing Nixon was apparently pretty convincing, catching the country by surprise.
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