Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The April Fools

Today is the day of the Jester--April Fools Day! This unofficial holiday is celebrated throughout the world in the event of changing the new year to January 1 from the last week March through April 1.
 It's unclear how this April Fool's tradition originated, but it's speculated that it dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as deemed by the Council of Trent in 1563. People's slow reaction or failure to the change  became the butt of jokes and hoaxes, which included having a paper fish placed on a person's back and being referred to as "poisson d'avril" (April fish), symbolizing a gullible person.

Historians have linked April Fools Day to ancient festivals, such as Hilaria, a Roman celebration at the end of March where people dressed up in disguises and possibly to the vernal equinox, first day of spring, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing unpredictable weather.
April Fools Day spread throughout Britain in the 18th century and in Scotland it became a two-day event called "hunting the gowk," where people(gowk's, meaning cuckoo bird and a symbol for fool) were sent on phony errands, followed by Tallie Day where pranks were played on people's derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or "kick me" signs on them.

Pranks and hoaxes have evolved throughout the centuries to our modern times, here is a highlight of some of  the elaborate pranks/hoaxes.

  • 1957,  BBC news program, complete with footage of farmers harvesting noodles from trees, reported that Switzerland's farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop of home-grown spaghetti due to lack of natural spaghetti pests a mild winter. The BBC received numerous calls from people wanting to start spaghetti trees and were told to take a sprig of spaghetti and place it in tomato sauce.
  • 1962, Sweden's only television station announced it could be viewed in color if one cut up tights and placed it over the television's screen which would bend the television's light to make it appear in color. Many Swedes fell for this hoax.
  • 1972, Yorkshire, England, a photo of the Loch Ness Monster was taken by zoologists at a local zoo, turns out that it was a seal with shaved whiskers.
  • 1985, Sports Illustrated ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch, who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.
  • 1996, Taco Bell restaurant chain, duped people when it announced that it agreed to purchase Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.
  • 1998, Burger King advertised a "Left-Handed Whopper," scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.
Alas, laugh aloud, enjoy the day and remember to think about what people tell you or may end up "The Fool" on April Fools Day.


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