Love or hate it, April Fools’ is probably the only day in the year when you’re allowed to pull (safe and moderate) pranks on your friends, or let your hair down to be plain silly. The best April Fools that most people do for the fastest way is to scare or throw someone off guard. While some say this day of foolishness is related to the turn of the seasons, many believe that it was a reminiscence of when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582, which moved the New Year from April 1 to January 1. Those who were slow to get the date change became the butt of jokes and the old date was therefore referred to as ‘fools’.
Although the idea is somewhat ubiquitous globally, there are nuances involved from one country to another. Here are some interesting facts on how different countries celebrate their version of April Fools’ Day:
Known as Aprilscherz or “April Joke”, it is customary to play a prank on family members, co-workers and friends by sending them on ridiculous errands or making up absurd “out of this world” stories. In fact, newspapers and broadcasters are known to have at least one outrageous story to partake in the celebration. To reveal the joke, Germans will shout “April, April”, to let you know you have been played. Be warned, pranks and jokes are only tolerated until noon, at which point it is considered bad luck to continue being “silly”.
It’s fishy how France observes their April Fools’ Day but it usually ends with someone successfully claiming Poisson d’Avril! (literally “April fish!”) after a good prank. Historically, children will secretly stick a paper fish or image of a fish on the back of an unsuspecting victim and wait for the prank to be discovered. According to some, the use of fish may be related to the zodiac sign Pisces (a fish), which falls near April.
Scots appear to love pranks so much so that April Fools’ Day takes two entire days! The first day is known as Hunt the Gowk Day (gowk meaning cuckoo and a Scottish term for a foolish person) and is celebrated by sending a friend or family member on a fool’s quest. The second day is known as the Tailie Day, where people place tails on each other’s backs and pull numerous posterior jokes. So if you’re planning a trip to Scotland after April 1, be sure to remember that it’s not over yet.
India celebrates its version of April Fools’ Day a day after the full moon in March each year. Known as Holi, the festival marks the arrival of spring and is largely famous as the “Festival of Colors”, where people play jokes, smears coloured powder all over each other, and dance under water sprinkler. The carefree spirit is said to originate from the childhood antics of Lord Krishna who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colours.
April Fools’ Day in Greece is surrounded by beliefs associated with good luck. The basic idea is that whoever manages to trick others will have good luck for the rest of the year, as opposed to the person who gets tricked. So it’s best to start with small lies if you happen to be celebrating it there, for a bumper good luck. Parts of the country also believed that if it rains on April Fools’ Day, the water would have healing powers.
Put aside the countries, there have been some genius prankster who managed to fool the public year after year. Example 1, this April Fools’ hoax was done since 1698, where the people in London were told to go see the annual ceremony of the washing of the lions at the Tower of London but only to find out there isn’t any annual lion-washing ceremony. By the mid-19th century, pranksters had even printed up fake tickets to enforce this prank even more.
Example 2, Australian millionaire, Dick Smith decided that he plans to tow an iceberg from Antarctica into the Sydney Harbour. He planned to carve little ice-cubes from it and sell to the public for ten cents each. He promises the purity of Antarctica’s ice would improve the quality of water when they drink. However, when it rained did people discovered that the iceberg was just a ton of white plastic sheet with firefighting foam and shaving cream on it. In the end, everyone had a good laugh.
If you are a fan of good April Fools’ pranks and looking to share your ingeniously maniacal ideas, look no further than the popular short video-sharing app TikTok where hashtags like #Aprilfools, and #peekabooo are going wild! In honour of the day of foolishness, take being silly to the next level with the in-app #peekabooo and #MYchannel stickers, with the latter giving you the chance to play newscaster in an over the top breaking-news format.
Be sure to also take advantage of TikTok’s in-app ‘The Funny Me’ quiz feature that allows you to convert your own selfie into funny emoji. A few emojis may even come in handy in the future where you may need to diffuse tension in some tricky situations with the people you pranked.
We know Malaysians are fun and understanding bunch when it comes to April Fools’ pranks and while we strongly do not advocate dangerous or harmful pranks(don’t say we never warn you!), everything else is fair game on this one special day. Good luck planning and happy pranking!