April Fool’s Day
There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on when the practice of playing jokes on the first day of April began, but there is some agreement that the celebration has something to do with the recognition of the spring equinox every year. For centuries, inhabitants of India have been celebrating what is know as the Feast of Huli on the last day of March, by sending people on silly or ridiculous errands. No matter where exactly the custom of playing pranks began, it became common in France around 1564, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the eighteenth century that citizens in England began the practice of April Fooling, and early settlers to America brought the custom with them.
Everyone is prone to pranks on April 1st, the ‘official’ All-Fool’s Day. Children and adults alike indulge such pranks, and some jokes and pranks are simple while others are ingenious and complicated. No one is off limits to getting ‘fooled’. Sometimes, pranks get so out of control that many businesses simply disconnect their phone service that day, though most will just play along. A prank can be verbal or physical in nature, and most are completely harmless. No matter which type, the day itself is dedicated to the pursuit of laughter, sometimes at the expense of others. Fun is the intended outcome for this humorous holiday, which is mentioned in Poor Robin’s Almanac of 1760:
The first of April, some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools’ Day.
But why the people call it so,
Nor I, nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent,
On purpose for pure merriment.
Since the first April Fool’s Day joke was unleashed upon an unsuspecting victim, fun and silly antics have been saved for this particular day all around the world. While in the United States, April Fool’s Day is usually enjoyed by schoolchildren of all ages, and many adults indulge in the holiday as well. Though April Fool’s Day is not a governmental holiday, it is a holiday in every sense of the word.
Sometimes, a prank will backfire or produce unexpected, and sometimes rather unpleasant results, but for the most part, it’s all harmless fun. This ‘silly time’ usually starts just after midnight on April 1st and continues throughout the day in schools, offices, homes and businesses throughout the United States. Everyone is on their guard this day, which is natural, since even government offices and company executive officers join in on the fun. No one seems to take anything very seriously on April Fool’s Day.
There have been occasions where embarrassment and chagrin has felled members from all walks of life. Practical jokes run rampant, and while putting salt in the sugar bowl for the next person is not a nice trick to play on a stranger, everyone seems to understand that it’s all meant as clean, good fun. More often than not, people are especially wary on this day, and double-check everything twice. College students set their clocks an hour behind, so their roommates show up to the wrong class – or not at all. These days, internet users are often the butt of anonymous emails or ‘computer crash’ jokes, that while alarming at first, almost always produce a chuckle or two after the victim realizes they’ve just been fooled. Still, many people now refuse to go online on April Fool’s Day for fear of being hit with an Internet virus or worm, which isn’t so funny.
Some practical jokes are kept up the whole day before the victim realizes what day it is. Most April Fool’s Day jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The most clever April Fool’s Day joke is the one where everyone laughs, especially the person upon whom the joke is played.