These jokes are not always played friend to friend or family to family, but at times can be played through the media, and can get quite elaborate.
April Fools Day Origins
Over the years, companies such as the BBC, Virgin, Google, Hulu, YouTube, Groupon, Starbucks... just to name a few have entered in the fun.
It is a long held tradition and we shall take a look at some of these, but first, just where did April Fools Day originate?
It goes back as early as the Roman Empire when a court jester (well the Roman equivalent) boasted to Emperor Constantine that fools and jesters could rule the 'kingdom' better than the emporer did. Constantine, feeling he could outdo the jester, decreed that for one day a year a chosen fool would rule the kingdom (no doubt with a few powers not handed over, a fool declaring war or diminishing taxes would not be a wise thing to allow).
On the first year a jester named Kugel was appointed temporary emperor. Kugel's first declaration was that only the absurd would be allowed to take place on that day. April 1st was that day, and with the absurd being the only things allowed in the empire on that day, April Fools Day was born.
The 50s, 60s and 70s
Winding clocks forward, among other pranks, are the regular fare. However, business can be big for a good prank, and places with money to spend, business, media and corporations, are not afraid to get elaborate in order to pull a few big stunts of their own.
The BBC show 'Panorama' ran a quite bizarre story on their April 1st show in 1957. It was a three minute segment covering a larger than expected spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. The shows respected host narrated scenes showing families tending to their spaghetti trees as they pulled in the harvest.
Obviously, it was all a prank, the producers of the segment had hung up moistened, thus flexible, strands of spaghetti from trees in order to fool their audience. Fool them they did, and once the hoax was confessed too the BBC recieved a large number of bad responses, complaining they had 'taken liberties with their audiences trust'.
Many Swedes fell for the prank, and one can only imagine the hilarity of watching (and even taking part in) sitting in front of the set, slowly moving backwards and forwards from the screen in order to discover the 'sweet spot' the pefect 'colour alignment'... that did not exist.
The director of the zoo confirmed it was indeed the body of the monster, and all his previous skepticism on the subject had been washed away – the body was irrefutable proof. The body was loaded onto a truck, but the local police were not happy with their icon leaving the area and a high speed chase ensued - the police citing an old act of parliament that prohibited the removal of unknown creatures from Loch Ness.
However, the police caught up and the prank was revealed. It turned out just to be the body of a bull elephant seal.
In 1976, BBC Radio 2 held an announcement from Patrick Moore, an astronomer, who had some exciting news. On that April 1st morning several planets would form a perfect alignment that would provide a gravitational pull that would temporarily counteract the earths gravity. If people jumped at the precisely the correct time they would feel a floating sensation for a few seconds.
At 9:47 Moore declared everyone listening to 'jump now!', and of course people did. The station recieved many calls from those who experienced the sensation, as well as those who blamed the station for the new holes in their celings. Of course all these people were being deceptive as there was no planetary alighnment counteracting the earths pull...
More Modern Pranks
Baines had found the remains while walking his dog in Derbyshire. Soon the object was known as the Derbyshire Fairy.
X-rays showed the bones were hollow, giving the creature a very light weight, and the size of the wings will have provided plenty of lift in order to allow it to fly. They had found and identified the remains of a fairy.
Of course, later they admitted to the hoax on April 1st, but still people wanted to believe. People claim to have seen exactly the same things and that they truly believed what he had found to be real regardless of his confession (maybe a cover up for some fairy conspiracy?!? lol). Baines put his sculpture up on ebay, where it finally sold for 280pounds... not a bad pay day for a hoax.
And where did they go when they took their annual journey?
The warm rainforests of South America of course. What better way for a penguin to spend the colder months, then in a nice warm and humid rainforest!
Many newspapers ran the story of the upcoming documentary from the BBC, with claims of remarkable footage (these were in on the joke), and several other newspapers nearly fell for it, almost following suit but then they noticed that the name of the filmmaker 'Prof Alid Loyas ' was an anagram for 'April Fools Day'. If they had of run with it it would have been highly embarassing for sure!
My Fool for You
It is all good fun and games, games that used to be relegated to being only able to take place before 12pm on the day (otherwise making a fool of the fooler) but with todays global networks and the social power of the internet that is one tradition of the day that is no longer relevant.
As my fool on you... well that origins of April Fools Day story near the start of the article. Completely ficticious.
That was a complete fabrication as given by Professor Joseph Boskin who was interviwed as an April Fools history expert. The Associated Press interviewed him about the origins of the day and he provided them with that story. The story ran in many papers around the US and everyone was fooled.
Boskin was no expert on the history, he made it all up on the spot and it took some time before newspapers caught on. Those following weeks saw quite a few apologies to readers of the various papers who ran the story and of course from the Associated Press themselves.
Have fun, be safe, make sure of the time and good luck getting through this day of 'absurdities' unscathe.
Why not share some of your pranks below?