April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day is on April 1st.

  • It is not a national holiday, so people still have to go to work and school.
  • Tradition states that on April 1st people can play practical jokes on each other. The idea is to show people up for being fools.
  • The day is celebrated in many countries, although some countries do things slightly differently; in France and Italy, for example, the idea is to place a paper fish on someone’s back, thus showing that they are a fool. In Britain (and countries that follow Britain’s holidays), the fooling is traditionally supposed to stop at midday.
  • The media like to play jokes too, with many newspapers often writing one false story that people have to try and find (and not fall for). Examples of this have been: Sports Illustrated writing in 1985 about an American baseball player who, after studying in a Tibetan monastery, could throw a baseball at 165mph, and The Guardian writing a 7-page special about holiday resorts all named after little known punctuation terms in 1977. Companies like to try to fool people too: Taco Bell once claimed it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the ‘Taco Liberty Bell’, whilst Burger King released a special whopper for left-handed people.
  • However, it is perhaps TV that has had the most successful hoax. In 1957 the BBC did a 3-minute report on Italy’s Spaghetti trees. It showed spaghetti on trees and talked about how people in Italy and Switzerland harvested spaghetti each March, and a pest – the spaghetti weevil – had nearly died out. Most people in Britain at the time did not actually know how spaghetti was made (they just bought it in a tin filled with tomato sauce) and since the report was on a trusted news programme and voiced by a respected reporter, many believed it was factual. The BBC then got hundreds of calls asking how to grow spaghetti. The reply was to take some spaghetti, plant it in tomato sauce, and hope for the best.
  • Possibly the strangest hoax was during World War 1. In 1915 a French bomber flew over German lines and looked to drop a huge bomb. The German soldiers ran for cover, but when nothing happened after the payload landed they came back to inspect. They found it was a football with a note saying ‘April Fool’.