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Pranks, jokes and fun... That is April 1, the day of fools

The 1st of April, also known as Fool’s Day, is apparently one of the most hilarious days of the year. Well, funny if not hilarious maybe, but not if somebody plays a prank on me.

April 1st - the fools' day
The origins of this day are unknown, but some sources say that it used to be a celebration of a new year. Ancient cultures (including Romans or Hindus), celebrated New Year around the 1st of April following the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st) when the start of spring when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather. During this period there used to be a festival called Hilaria, celebrated in Rome, when people used to dress up in disguises.

Another reason why we might celebrate this day as a fool’s day is the Gregorian Calendar. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar, which celebrated a new year on  April 1st. The Calendar moved the celebration of a New Year to the first of January. Apparently that year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted the celebration of a new year to January 1st, or at least they tried.

Many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s day on April 1st. Other people began to make fun of them, sending them on ‘fool’s errands’ or trying to trick them.

The practice spread throughout Europe and in Britain throughout the 18th century. In Scotland the tradition became a two-day event, starting with ‘hunting the gowk’, in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol of foolishness) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or ‘kick me’ signs on them. 

Nowadays Aprils Fools’ day is observed through the Western world. Practices include sending someone to look for things that don’t exist, playing pranks and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

Some of today’s pranks from the media: 

Germans gunning for 7 Nations glory

The German government today announced a new policy to establish rugby as the country’s new national sport.

At the unveiling of the far-reaching measures that will see rugby become an integral part of German culture, government spokesperson G. Flügel stated that the country would “focus all attention and efforts on winning the 7 Nations Championship.”

Speaking to the gathered journalist at a press conference in Berlin on Friday 1 April, Flügel outlined that negotiations to expand the 6 Nations into a 7 nations event were still ongoing.

According to Flügel, the initiative was initially due to be announced following the culmination of the Bundesliga season on 14 May, however defeat to England in Berlin on 26 March had brought the announcement forward.

Flügel stated: “Succumbing to an English side last weekend provided us with a wake-up call. We identified rugby as a sport in which we can reasonably expect to make an impact and have decided to focus all attention and efforts on winning the 7 Nations Championship.”

With thanks to the German Embassy.

Scratch N Sniff 

Historic Newspapers is aiming to immerse readers into the past even more with Scratch N Sniff editions.

The website’s extensive range of Newspaper Books have been upgraded to stimulate the senses and transport any recipient back to a time forgotten - all through their sense of smell.

Popular dates/scents include:

20th December 1928 marks the day Harry Ramsden opened his first fish and chip shop, and the smell of fish and chips became a British trademark

30th July 1935 was the day the first ‘Penguin paperbacks’ were produced and the ‘new book’ smell became a staple in homes

8th May 1945 welcomed the end of World War Two and the smell of celebratory fireworks filled the air

30th July 1966 when England won the World Cup and the smell of freshly-mown grass filled fans’ nostrils

For more April pranks from all over the world visit: April, fools day


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Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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