Though pranksters and joke-lovers in many countries now gleefully prepare to dupe friends and loved ones on April Fool’s Day, no one knows exactly when or why, or even where, this tradition began.
A giddy spurt of practical joking seems to have coincided with the coming of spring since the time of the Ancient Romans and Celts, who celebrated a festival of mischief-making. The first mentions of an All Fool’s Day (as it was formerly called) came in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Some trace April Fool’s Day back to Roman mythology, particularly the story of Ceres, Goddess of the harvest, and her daughter, Proserpina.
Pluto, God of the Dead, abducted Proserpina and took her to live with him in the underworld. The girl called out to her mother, but Ceres could only hear the echo of her daughter’s voice and searched for her in vain.
Such “fool’s errands,” or wild goose chases, became a popular practical joke in Europe in later centuries.
The most widespread theory of the origin of April Fool’s Day is the switch from the old Julian to the Gregorian calendar (now in use) in the late 16th century. Under the Julian calendar, the New Year was celebrated during the week between March 25 and April 1, but under the Gregorian calendar, it was moved to Jan. 1. Those who were not notified of the change, or stubbornly kept to the old tradition, were often mocked and had jokes played on them on or around the old New Year.
In France, this took the form of pranksters sticking fish on the backs of those who celebrated the old custom, earning the victims of the prank the name Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish.
But the theory can’t explain why the pranking tradition spread to other countries in Europe that did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until later.
In Scotland, the butts of April Fool’s jokes were known as April “Gowks,” another name for a cuckoo bird. The origins of the “Kick Me” sign can supposedly be traced back to the Scottish observance of the day.
In more recent times, radio stations, TV programs and Web sites have set up gullible readers and listeners. One of the most notorious jokes was a 1957 hoax BBC documentary of the annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, featuring a family plucking strands of the pasta from “spaghetti trees.” The Italian favorite was still considered an exotic delicacy in Britain at the time, and many listeners were so fooled they wanted to find out how to get a spaghetti bush of their own.
On April 1, 2007 Internet search engine Google announced their new Gmail Paper service, where users of the free email service could save emails to a paper archive in which Google would print out and mail for free. Last year, Google invited people to sign up for a Mars exploration project.
So while you’re surfing the web or watching TV today, be wary of what you see and read, or you could end up an April Fool!
Original Source: Life’s Little Mysteries
APRIL FOOL’S DAY LINKS
— JUST FOR FUN —
This site is one of the most complete/comprehensive listings of April Fools’ Day jokes that websites have run each year — starting in 2004 — all the way up to this year, 2010 — Features several pages of online jokes, tricks and “foolery”, loaded with images — Make sure you check out the full list — and if you have come across a site that is not already listed, you can add on to it.
Bookmark this site so you don’t get fooled online this year!
These are judged by notoriety, creativity as well as the number of people duped.
The above list of the Top 100 April Fool’s Day jokes celebrates the best of April 1st. But sometimes April 1st inspires attempts at humor that doesn’t turn out so well. Some attempts are, in fact, truly awful. That’s what this list explores.
Test your pop culture literacy by determining which are the hoax photos (like those that have been manipulated in some way) and which are real.
Pretend that you’re an editor at a major newspaper. A reporter has just handed you a story that contains the following statements. Unfortunately, this reporter has a reputation for embellishing stories with wild claims that are completely untrue. Using common sense and whatever you happen to know about the subjects, you’ve got to decide which statements are true and which are false before the paper goes out to print. Saying “I don’t know” is NOT an option.
The Hoaxipedia is an online encyclopedia of hoaxes, urban legends, pranks, tall tales, scams, and deceptions of all kind. It is a work-in-progress, currently containing approximately two hundred articles.
This site examines dubious claims and mischief of everything imaginable.
These are NOT websites about hoaxes – These are sites that actually ARE hoaxes themselves!
Funny, peculiar, weird, irreverent, off-the-wall, etc…
This is Wikipedia’s entry for everything dealing with April Fool’s Day.
You Know What They Say About Fools?
Here you’ll find some famous as well as a few lesser known comments and sayings from a few well known authors as well as other named celebrities throughout history.
- It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt. —Mark Twain
- However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him. — Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
- [Politicians] never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. — Thomas Reed
- He who lives without folly isn’t so wise as he thinks. — François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
- The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. — Herbert Spencer
- Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom. — Elizabeth Gaskell
- Looking foolish does the spirit good. — John Updike
- Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. — Mark Twain
- A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. — William Blake
- A fool must now and then be right by chance. — Cowper
- It is better to be a fool than to be dead. — Stevenson
- The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. — Mark Twain