Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fool's Day and Pranks

April Fools Day, April 1St, Joke Day April Fool's day is the first day of April.  It is a day when students tell me my shoelace is untied or I dropped something.  It won't happen this year due to school being out till the beginning of May.  I've often wondered when it started, haven't you?

April Fool's Day is also known as All Fools Day.  It is thought this day began back in 1582 when France switched from the Julian Calendar to our current calendar.

Since much of France was extremely rural, not everyone got told that the new year began on January first instead of March or April.  This caused these people to be teased and have tricks played on them because they were not following the new calendar.  Some people had paper fish attached to their backs and people called them "poisson d'Avril" or April Fish because this term referred to gullible people.

As time went on, April Fool's Day spread out to the United Kingdom in the 18th Century. At this time, it was celebrated over a two day period.  The first day people would be sent on phony errands and on the second day people would pin signs on other people's rears.  The signs might read something like kick me.

Eventually, it went to one day where people and even companies pull off pranks such as the one the BBC ran in 1957.  They reported the Swiss had a recored noodle harvest and even showed footage of the noodles being harvested from trees.  There are some great hoaxes recorded throughout history.

The earliest recorded April Fool's Hoax dates back to 1698 when people were encouraged to head over to the tower of London to watch the annual ceremony for washing the lions.  Quite a few people showed up and discovered it was fake but that didn't stop people from repeating in following years.  They targeted visitors from out of town and it became involved, people even printed tickets to the show.

Another wonderful prank occurred in 1749 when it was advertised that a man would squeeze himself into wine bottle and then sing while inside it.  Furthermore, people could hold the bottle to examine it.  The show sold out but people got a bit upset when the star performer never showed.  It is said this particular hoax came about as the result of a bet between a duke and an earl.  The duke bet he could advertise some possible show and people would pay to attend.  He was right.

In 1905, A German newspaper ran the story stating that a bunch of robber barons dug a tunnel under the United States Treasury in Washington D.C and stole all the gold and silver stored there.  According to the article, it took three years to dig the tunnel and they escaped with $268 million dollars.  The United States covered up the story while hunting for the thieves.  This story was supplied by their New York correspondent and the story spread through Europe on April 1st of that year.

In 1989, the founder of Virgin Airlines arranged for a UFO saucer to land in a field outside of London.  Citizens called it in so the police went out to investigate.  When the UFO opened and a silver clad creature walked out, the police turned tail and ran.  Turns out the UFO was actually a hot air balloon and the pilots were heading for London but ended up landing in Surrey.

Even magazines like Sports Illustrated are not above pulling a prank or two.  In the April 1, 1985 issue, George Plimpton wrote an article about a new Mets baseball pitcher Side Finch who could throw a ball at 168 mph.  The second line under the headline contained the phrase "Happy April Fool's Day".

In 2015, the toilet paper manufacturers Cottonelle tweeted an introduction to their new product which went viral.  Imagine, toilet paper for lefties but it is not known how many people fell for this one.  However, several years before in 1998, Burger King introduced a left handed Whopper that did get a lot of response.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about April Fool's day, its history, and some of the more popular stunts pulled by companies and people alike.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

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