Just another day...but, is it?
When I was in grade school, I remember waking to soft tapping on my bedroom door and Dad’s announcement: “No school today, it’s a snow day.” I bounced out of bed, excited to have a full day of sledding and building snow forts. The joyful mood passed quickly as Dad’s wide grin and proclamation confirmed I had been fooled. As I got older, I realized April snow days -- even in Northeastern PA -- were rare, but it didn’t stop Dad from using this prank on my younger sisters and me for many years.
Today, googling “April Fools Day” will result in about 1,920,000 search results on the world wide web.
The annual April 1st custom consists of practical jokes and hoaxes followed by jokesters exposing their actions by shouting "April Fools!" Mass media has also been known to pull pranks – only ‘fessing up’ on the following day.
Among these almost two million links you will learn that April Fools Day is celebrated around the world with pranks dating as far back as, yes, you guessed it: Noah and the Ark (It’s been said that Noah sent out a crow to check for land before he sent the dove.)
There are many theories about the origin of April Fools Day; you can google those, I’m not going down that rabbit hole. However, I did spend considerable browsing time on what are considered the best hoaxes and practical jokes of all time, such as:
In London, the proud recipients of an invitation sent out in 1856 must have felt they were being called to witness a magnificent event that joined history, royalty, and a superb setting – British pomp and circumstance at its best. Signed by one Herbert de Grassen, evidently a "senior warden", sealed with an imposing blob of crimson wax…it summoned recipients to witness "the Annual Ceremony of Washing The Lions" at the Tower of London. It is unknown how many did not notice the date of April 1st stamped on the invitation. Earlier in the 19th century—before the date of the invitation—the lions and other animals were moved to the new Regent's Park zoo.
There was a year ( 1946 ) when an undersea (13,000 feet beneath the surface) earthquake occurred off the Alaskan coast near the Aleutian Islands, causing the April Fools Tsunami in the North Pacific. The shock had a moment magnitude of 8.6, a tsunami magnitude Mₜ of 9.3, and a surface-wave magnitude of 7.4. It resulted in about 160 casualties in Hawaii and over $26 million in damage. Certainly no joke…right? She’s fooled us more than once; could Mother Nature be setting us up for a Sargassum Seaweed Blob Invasion this year? Keep an eye on those headlines!
In 2008 (or was it in 1998? – the date differs depending on the source) press releases and full-page ads for Burger King’s Left-Handed Whopper announced the new dining choice for lefties, in which placement of condiments like pickles was rotated 180 degrees, "…redistributing the weight of the sandwich so that the bulk of the condiments will skew to the left, thereby reducing the amount of lettuce and other toppings from spilling out the right side of the burger." Thousands arrived at the fast food establishment on the first day in April with great anticipation, only to be fooled!
Not to be outdone by Burger King, in 2015, Cottonelle tweeted that it was introducing left-handed toilet paper claiming that "America has spoken, and we at Cottonelle have listened." ReverseRipple™ toilet paper, specially designed "for left-handed wipers” was introduced.
The most common pranks between family members seem to involve food: switching the sugar bowl contents with salt or removing the white cream filling from an Oreo and replacing it with mayonnaise. For families with a baby in the home, a clean diaper is smeared with chocolate candy or peanut butter; then a spouse or older child is called to observe with horror as the prankster tastes the mess.
Elaborate pranks have appeared on radio and television stations, newspapers, and websites, and have been performed by large corporations. On April 1, 1905, for example, a German newspaper wrote that thieves had dug a tunnel underneath the U.S. Treasury and stolen $268 million in silver and gold (today’s purchasing power of about $8,478,218,181).
Another famous prank in 1957 was the broadcasting of a BBC film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC was soon flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.
In Thailand, the police warned ahead of April Fools' in 2021 that posting or sharing fake news online could lead to a maximum of five years imprisonment. This was not a joke, the police were serious! Hmmm, I wonder how many of us will be fooled by the media on the first of April? I’m not going down that rabbit hole either.
I like what Jeff Dean of NPR said not too long ago, “Although we may never know its true origins, April 1 has come to represent a day of joy and comedy as we move out of the darkness of winter and into the light of spring.”
On April 1st, before you leave your house, remember to check the back of your coat for a “Kick Me” sign -- and have a Happy April Fools Day!
Note: Any facts in this post were taken from the world wide web. Any mistakes are mine.
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