On April 1st, many countries around the world celebrate “April fool’s Day”, or some version of it. It is a day when people play jokes on each other. There are many theories on how the tradition began. Here are the main ones:
The Emperor Constantine Theory
This theory was provided by a history professor from Boston University named Joseph Boskin. He explained that the practice began during the rule of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A group of court jesters and fools told Constantine that they could do a much better job than him of running the mighty Roman Empire. Constantine selected Kugel, the court jester, to be king for one day. Kugel didn’t waste any time and quickly passed a new law calling for jokes, pranks and fun on that day, and that’s how that custom became the annual event we celebrate to this day. Professor Boskin also explained that in those ancient historic times the fools were really the wise men.
In 1564 France changed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. In those days news travelled by foot and many people did not receive the news for several years. On the other hand, some people were very stubborn and wanted to keep the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week between March 25th and April 1st. These backward folk were labelled as “fools” by the general populace. Pranksters would secretly stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called “Poisson d’Avril”, or April Fish — which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools — and so the tradition was born.
Iranians play jokes on each other on the 13th day of the Persian New Year, which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day is called Sizdah Bedar and has been celebrated as far back as 536 BCE! This is the oldest prank-tradition in the world still alive today; this fact has led many to believe that this is the origin of the April Fools’ Day tradition.
Which theory do you think is the correct one?
Popular Pranks You Can Do
- Change your victim’s cell phone settings from English to another language. Make sure you know how to change it back!
- Replace the cream filling of cookies with toothpaste.
- Put toilet paper in the shoes (where the toes go) and the victim will think their feet grew overnight.
- Put food colouring in the container of milk.
- Remember that these pranks could be done to you.
Before you go being a prankster today, we wanted to tell you that the Emperor Constantine Theory was brought to the attention of the public by the famous news agency “The Associated Press”. It was published in 1983 by many newspapers, which is great, but the trick is that it was all made up by professor Boskin, who outsmarted all those journalists and even you – Ha, Ha, and Ha! Now go and prank away.
One of the great media hoaxes of all time was set up on April 1, 1957 by the BBC. It reported on the news program “Panorama” that Switzerland was having an amazing harvest of spaghetti from their spaghetti trees. The news footage shows happy peasants picking strands of pasta from the spaghetti trees. This prank was so convincing that many viewers actually called the BBC to ask how they could grow their own. You can watch the original news story below (video might not be available in your area):
For the past few years Google turned out to be quite the April fool’s little prankster. This year the team is launching Google Nose Beta on April 1st. It allows users to search the Internet for smells, by intersecting photons with infrasound waves and using a database of 15 million scentibytes of smells from around the world. But why don’t we allow the merry folks @ Google explain it themselves (video might not be available in your area):
If the video doesn’t work, click on the picture below to visit Google Nose beta:
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/7036208493/”>Robert Couse-Baker</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>