April 1, 2021
April Fools! A Holiday History
Ah, April Fools’ day: a day of jests and pranks.
Whether it was Burger King’s “Left-Handed Whopper” in 2008,
or the BBC announcing a record pasta harvest in Switzerland in 1957, harmless
fun at the expense of the gullible is a world-wide, day-long tradition.
But April Fools’ Day has a very unique and storied history.
Come with us on a journey through the history of April
Fools’ Day and learn 5 things about this jocular holiday you probably wouldn’t
1. April Fools’ Day may have originated in Ancient Egypt.
At least, some historians believe evidence points to a
similar celebration circa 1400 BC. This celebration involved the creation of
fake figs. These would be mixed with real fruits at a harvest feast, and those
who selected the false figs would get a surprise: nothing. Everyone loved it.
These feasts, however, weren’t in April, but were held closer to the end of the
growing season in late February.
2. Benjamin Franklin loved April 1 pranks.
Benjamin Franklin was known by all to have a singular wit. It
was intelligent, goofy, and sometimes even bawdy. Bringing humor to the masses
was a big part of the success of his publication Poor Richard’s Almanack:
a popular joke being, “Fish and visitors smell after three days.” One of Ben’s
favorite practical jokes, though, was applying a bit of ink to the nose rests
of his newly invented (by him) bifocals, having others try them on, and… you
know the rest. This is an old April Fools’ Day gag now, for sure, but back
then, it was hilarious.
3. April Fools’ Day pranks were banned in the UK during
Of course pranks of all sorts were discouraged as countries
united during the Second World War, but the UK actually banned them. The last
straw, so to speak, were flyers that appeared in London in 1943. They
advertised a one-time-only performance (on April 1, of course) of a man contorting
and squeezing himself into a very small metal box. It seemed impossible and it
was. With a crowd showing up to a closed theater, the safety risk was
immediately seen by the government. April Fools’ Day pranks were quickly banned
by law for the duration of the war, but the prankster remained a mystery.
4. Hide and Seek World Champion was never found.
Started in 2010, the Nascondino World Championship has been
an annual event in Bergamo, Italy. Occurring every April 1, Nascondino is
Italian for “hide and seek,” and that’s exactly what this silly and
light-hearted competition is. In 2011, Luigi Artino jokingly put his name down as
“Mario” on the official record since his team was dressed in Super Mario
costumes. But, when that team won, the governing body (all in fun) decided to
be firm with the rules. “Mario Artino” was awarded a trophy, but couldn’t be
found to accept it since he didn’t exist. He’s a Nascondino legend to this day.
5. April Fools’ Day arrives one day earlier this year.
This one is also kind of a cheat. It doesn’t really come one
day early on our calendar, but it does when compared to April Fools’ Day of 500
years ago. It all has to do with the switching from the Julian calendar to the
Gregorian calendar. That shifted a lot of days, which means that technically,
April Fools’ Day comes a day earlier this year.
The best April Fools’ Day pranks are woven with truth,
making them easier to believe. And if you believed any of ours, then mission
accomplished and April Fools!