When the spring is on its way and the month turns from March to April, there comes a day when you can’t trust anyone or anything. And if you do so, you’ll end up getting laughed at. And that day is, of course, April fool’s day. The tradition of hoaxes has now spread widely but where does this custom come from?
The origin of how the April fool’s day started isn’t even totally clear for us. In Europe, we celebrate this custom on the 1st of April. A similar day in Spain, Hispanic America and the Philippines is called “The day of the holy innocents!” and it’s celebrated on December 28.
According to the most common theory, the custom to celebrate Aprils fools’ day goes back to the moment when people in Europe switched calendars from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in the 1500 century. And apparently, in France it caused misunderstanding. The adaption enabled the possibility to fool other people that the 1st of April was still a proper day to celebrate the New year, even though the day was moved to the 1st of January after the calendar change. And if people went to this hoax, well.. then they got huge laughs from forgetting the real day and celebrating the new year at a wrong date.
In France, Belgium, and Italy this day is known to be the April fish. Traditionally people have been taping paper fishes on other peoples’ backs in the way that the person doesn’t notice it. And afterward making fun of them from looking so foolish with fishes in their backs and yelling ”poisson d’Avril” which means Aprils fish. It’s also common to tape other stuff like a “kick me” note on someone’s back and make humor out of it.
In Finland, the point of the fools has been more to make someone do something foolish, not just to prank. Before there was a habit to fool children out of the house when it was time for spring butchering or something that wasn’t meant for the young eyes to see. So adults used to send their children to borrow some imaginary stuff from neighbors’ houses, who of course were in the same scam and made the children continue their ridiculous search. And so the children went from house to house chasing the most inventive stuff, like a glass ax or darkness from Egyptian night. Also as a purpose to teach children not to be so easily believing. And since the tradition landed to Finland via Sweden, the custom has taken this date.
In Ukraine, the 1st of April is a public holiday and every year they celebrate it by having a huge festival called Humorina at Odesa. Traditionally there is a big parade of comedians, musicians, clowns, and people dressed up doing performances and enjoying the festival of humor. We all love to sometimes do practical pranks and laugh our lungs out. Now days probably the biggest focus is in the media. In many countries, the newspapers and media are inventing different largescale pranks and spreading them around.
One of the most legendary hoaxes was when BBC’s Panorama series showed a video of Swiss people celebrating a good spaghetti harvest. In this video, they show how farmers are harvesting spaghetti from trees and information that they’ve finally defeated the spaghetti beetles who were a threat to the yield. People started to call asking how they can grow their own spaghetti tree and the channel replied that everyone can grow their own spaghetti tree just by putting spaghetti into tomato sauce jar and hoping for the best. In the year 1962 in Swedish television expert Kjell Stenson told that since they’ve had new technology, it’s possible to watch broadcasts in colors if you put nylon tights on the TV screen because they refract light. And of course, many people were fooled, and men were searching women’s tights all-around their homes.