Happy April Fool's Day!

April 1st is also known as April Fool’s Day. It is the day when practical jokes and hoaxes are played on a hopefully unsuspecting audience. These jokes and their respective victims are known as April Fools. Once the joke or hoax has been played, “April Fool” is shouted at the recipient of the joke. If you are celebrating this tradition in the UK any jokes or hoaxes must take place in the morning as once it passes noon, it’s the person playing the joke who then becomes the April Fool.

Although the origins are somewhat uncertain, it has been claimed this tradition can even be traced back as far as 1392, when Chaucer apparently linked 1st April and foolery in The Canterbury Tales. However it wasn’t until the 19th Century that April Fool’s Day gained in popularity and it’s not just a day celebrated in the UK but also in other parts of Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Brazil.

Some media outlets such as radio and TV stations, newspapers have played elaborate pranks with these April Fool’s jokes obviously reaching a huge audience. Perhaps one of the most famous April Fools’ jokes by the media was a feature on BBC’s Panorama in 1957. They reported that Switzerland was experiencing a bumper spaghetti harvest that year due to good weather and the elimination of “spaghetti weevil”. They even showed farmers picking spaghetti strands from trees. People were so taken in that they actually phoned in to see how they could grow their own.

But this light hearted day is not without its controversies with some people failing to see the funny side when they have gullibly fallen for the joke or been the subject of a prank. So remember to choose your victim wisely for your next April Fool’s joke!  

 1st April 2015 /    Alice /   On this day, Global Events

'Happy April Fools' Day!'

Yes, as you can see from the below, it’s that time of year again when tomfoolery and trickery are orders of the day. The origins of this persistent celebration are still shrouded in mystery but according to folklore, experts suggest it sprung from France in the 1500s. Before 1582, the country celebrated New Year for 8 days starting March 25 and ending April 1. However, around this time the Gregorian calendar was introduced moving New Year’s Day to January 1 to match the Roman calendar. Reputedly, word of this date change travelled slowly, and many people in the countryside continued to celebrate the New Year as usual in the Spring. The story holds that these country folk became known as "April fools," and the popular legend continues throughout the world today…

Here are a few of our favourite April Fools’ Day Pranks:

1)    Gravity is a joke

In 1976 British Astronomer Patrick Moore announced over the BBC radio station that due to a rare astronomical event, the earth would temporarily experience a lessening in gravity. Should listeners choose to jump in the air at approximately 9:47, participants would feel a “strange floating sensation”. Needless to say, the radio station received hundreds of calls from amazed victims, with one lady even purportedly swearing to floating around the room. She obviously got carried away by Moore’s fiendish floating falsery.

2)    Great White Con

In 1981 the Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan published a report claiming that 3 lakes in northern Michigan had been selected to host "an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks." Two thousand sharks were to be released into the lakes including Blue sharks, Hammerheads, and a few Great Whites. The experiment was designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of Michigan. A representative from the National Biological Foundation predicted there to be a noticeable decline in fish populations in the lake because "the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older." Federal government had apparently green lighted the experiment despite protests from County officials who feared the hazard it would pose to fishermen and swimmers. Adding further bait, fishermen had been forbidden from catching the newly released sharks since they had been granted protected status. Needless to say, The Herald-News received a maelstrom of letters of complaint in response to this decidedly fishy announcement.

3)    Branson’s hoax not so transparent

In 2013, legendary pioneer and British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson once again showed his penchant for pranks when his company Virgin Airlines announced that it would be adding glass-bottomed planes to its fleet. The upgraded cabin feature was designed to ensure "passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats." Despite Virgin’s genius blue sky thinking, alas, it was all a jocular gem. How many of you saw through that cheeky red lie?

4)    It’s a whopping Fib

By 1998, large scale commercial pranks had become big business. Burger King published a full page advertisement in the April 1st edition of USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu. The "Left-Handed Whopper" was specifically designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included EXACTLY the same ingredients as the original Whopper but with the twist that all of the condiments were rotated at 180 degrees for the benefit of their loyal left-handies. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of gullible customers had rushed into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Bizarrely enough, many others apparently requested their own special 'right handed' version. They got royally Fooled!

The team at TVSS would like to wish you a very cheeky Happy Aprils Fools' Day but remember, the best practical jokes are the ones where no one’s feelings get hurt.

 1st April 2014 /    Alice /   On this day, Global Events

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