by Kristi L
“Surely you jest” is the phrase of the month… Some may say that April Fool’s Day is for the foolish or childish. This last year in entertainment and the media, some may say we have been living a Groundhog day of April Fool’s Days.
Where and when did this day for the fool start? There are a few theories the first of which dates back to Pope Gregory XIII. In 1582, he wanted his new Gregorian calendar to replace the old Julian calendar. This called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on January 1 instead of the end of March. Some people must have missed the memo and continued celebrating New Years on April 1st. These people were sent on a “fools errand”.
Other theories reference the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis and involved dressing in disguise. The Hindu calendar has the festival of Holi, the festival of colours and love.
In the Jewish calendar Purim is celebrated with gift giving, partying and charity to remember the salvation from the Persians. Many other cultures have held renewal festivals around April first in Europe and there are references to these dating back to the 1500s.
Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event. This was later investigated by the associated press and found that after publishing this was nothing but an April Fool’s prank by Boskin.
What is clear though is that by the 1700s, the day of hilarity was well entrenched in Britain, and now April 1 is officially the most amusing day of the year.
Some of the most famous of April Fool’s day pranks are so absurd that they could be true; here are the top four, you can decide for yourself…
- Spaghetti harvest -In 1957, the BBC broadcast a film on Panorama showing Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti, calling it the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The broadcaster was flooded with requests about the plant
- Fools’ Day Parade -Since 1986 press releases for the New York City April Fools’ Day Parade – which doesn’t exist – have been issued every year
- Left-handed burger-In 1998 Burger King reeled in customers with a full-page advert in USA Today for its ‘left-handed Whopper’ – with all the condiments rotated 180 degrees especially for left-handed diners. The fast-food chain later announced ‘Everyone knows that it takes two hands to hold a Whopper!’
- Flying penguins-in 2008 the BBC caught viewers out by running a video clip of flying penguins, claiming the birds were flying to tropical rain forests in South American to escape the harsh Antarctic weather
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS