April Fools’ Day Shenanigans

Tammie Beasley

Messenger Staff

April Fools’ Day, celebrated on April 1st every year, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, but its exact origins remain a mystery. April Fools’ Day is the day for playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others and then yelling “April Fools!” at the end to let them know they have been pranked. Even though the history is surrounded in mystery, the embrace of April Fools’ Day has ensured the unofficial holiday’s long life.

There are several theories as to the origins of April Fools’ Day. One speculates that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Under the Julian Calendar, the new year began with the spring around April 1st. Those who failed to get the news or recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1st and continued to celebrate it on April 1st became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April Fools”.

April Fools Day has also been linked to festivals such as Hilaria (Latin for joyful) which was celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March. It involved people dressing up in disguises and mocking fellow citizens. It has also been tied to vernal equinox or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather. Living in Kentucky, this sounds like a plausible explanation to me.

Newspapers, radio and television stations and websites have participated in the tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees! In 1985, Sports Illustrated writer, George Plimpton tricked his readers when he ran a fictional article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1992, National Public Radio ran a spot with former President Richard Nixon saying he was running for president again. Of course, it was an actor, not Nixon, and the segment caught the country by surprise. In 1996, Taco Bell fooled people when it announced that it had purchased Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper”, hordes of customers requested the fake sandwich. I never heard of any of these until I was researching for this article, but I sure did get a laugh out of them!

There are elaborate April Fool’s Day pranks that really take a lot of time and sometimes money but for us average tricksters, here are some examples of classic April Fools’ Day pranks:

Cover the toilet with plastic wrap.

Switch out sugar and salt.

Fill a sleeping person’s hand with shaving cream and then tickle their nose.

Hard boil eggs and then replace them back in the egg carton.

Change your phone message on April Fool’s Day to say, “Hello? Hello?” then pause and say “Is anyone there?” Then pause and finish up with “April Fools!”

Scare someone silly with a rubber snake, spider, rat or some kind of insect!

Flood someone’s computer or phone with annoying videos.

Then there is always the old faithful “Your shoe is untied” prank.

And let’s not forget our co-workers. The trick to not getting pranked at the office is to arrive early and don’t leave your desk unattended at all throughout the day. Here are some examples of office pranks:

Position a sticker or tape a piece of paper under the mouse on the computer. Whether it’s a laser mouse or a ball-rolling mouse, the sticker will interfere with the mouse’s ability to work.

Deck your co-worker’s office or desk out in posters and fan gear from a celebrity they don’t really love. This can also be done with cars. When they leave work and they think they have managed to get through the day without being pranked, then they walk out and see their car!

Wrap your co-worker’s chair completely with foil, wrapping paper or toilet paper and sneak a whoopie cushion under the wrap. Hopefully they will just laugh and sit down thinking the joke is over only to hear the whoopee cushion.

Zip tie office supplies, such as scissors and staplers.

Put an “Out of Order” sign on every bathroom.

As a kid growing up, my grandfather pranked me every year for several years by telling me first thing in the morning when I woke up to run to the window and look out at the huge bunny rabbit in the yard. And yes, I fell for it every year. But whatever prank you do should be quick and in good fun. Never prank anyone who you suspect might not appreciate it. The joke could end up being on you. Happy April Fools’ Day!

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