No fooling, no one really knows the exact history of April Fool’s Day.
Some believe the day is connected to the change of the calendar year.
Until the mid-16th century, France officially recognized the start of the new year as the last week of March, with celebrations culminating on April 1. It wasn’t until the country switched from the Julian calendar to the standard Gregorian calendar that the new year began on Jan. 1 as it does today. Thus, the term “April Fool” was purportedly a phrase used to mock those who were unaware of or chose not to follow the change.
Others draw parallels between April Fool’s and the Ancient Roman festival Hilaria.
Still, others say it’s because April’s unpredictable spring season weather can catch anyone unprepared, causing people to look like fools. This idea makes perfect sense for us in Louisiana, especially when you’re trying to dress for rain, shine and all four seasons in a single day.
Another idea comes from the mock-heroic “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” published in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” in 1392. Though some believe it was a typo or even just a reader miscomprehension, the tale mentions a “March 32,” or what we would call April 1.
With several other “April Fool’s” references in stories and poems across time and settings, perhaps it’s just human nature to let loose with a good prank from time to time. April Fool’s Day is celebrated across the world, and though traditions vary with each culture, all share a common theme of tomfoolery.
In France, the holiday is known as “Poisson d’Avril.” Gullible guppies beware, the traditional prank is to stick colorful paper fish on other people’s backs.
Scotland loves the holiday so much they have two days of celebrations. April 2 is known as “Taily Day.” As the name suggests, its main focus is on the rear end, as people tape “Kick me” signs to others’ backs.
The Ukraine hosts “Humorina,” a full-out festival in Odessa with a parade and performances from comedians and clowns.
According to English tradition, April Fool’s jokes are technically only valid before noon, but that didn’t stop the BBC from orchestrating one of the most hilarious April Fool’s pranks of all time.
On April 1, 1957, the BBC’s Panorama investigative series produced a documentary giving viewers a first-hand look into the “spaghetti farms of Switzerland.” Boiled spaghetti noodles hung from the branches of trees, as a serious, yet ridiculous voiceover described the actions of the “spaghetti farmers” as they gathered their crop.
It’s said the BBC received hundreds of calls from viewers, eager to know how they could start growing their own spaghetti trees.
It’s not unusual for the media, celebrities and other big-name companies to get involved in the fun.
On April 1, 1997, Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak switched places. Viewers tuning into the gameshows found Trebek hosting a special charity version of “Wheel of Fortune” and Sajak hosting an episode of “Jeopardy.”
As promised, “Jeopardy!” has updated its list of guest hosts with four more big names.
Businesses have been known to use the date to promote sales and real-time marketing. With Twitter, it’s easier than ever for the ridiculousness to gain traction and trend.
In 2015, Honda created a satirical advertisement announcing the HR-V Selfie Edition, which boasted ten cameras to allow drivers to snap selfies while parked. It was all just a goofy gimmick to promote the new line of vehicles.
So, on this Thursday, I leave you with a word of caution: if it seems utterly ridiculous, it probably is. It’s all in the good fun of this happy April Fool’s.