The day everyone loves yet fears: the first of April. Why’s that? Well, it’s April Fools Day! The day you can get away with pranking all your friends and family. April Fools is a Day filled with pranks everywhere, you may even hear made-up stories on the radio or read false news reports online. While the day is known by most as a day filled with silly pranks, April Fools traditions differ with varied cultures. Dive into the article to read about the different April Fools traditions around the world.
April Fools Day in France is known as ‘Poisson D’avril’, which translates to April Fish! It is said that the name and traditions date back over 500 years with the great fishermen, the Celts (tribes with origins in central Europe).
(Choose Your April Fool’s Day Pranks from around the World, 2020)
The fishing season always began on the 1st of April and if they weren’t able to catch a great deal of fish on their first day many of them would lie about it. Nowadays, children create fish shapes out of paper and tape them onto people’s backs, shouting “Poisson D’avril”. A few of these paper fish may even have short phrases such as ‘slap me!’ on them, so beware of that!
In Italy, April Fools is called Pesce d’Aprile. Along with having a similar name for April Fools as France, they also have quite similar traditions. They follow the same prank of taping paper fish onto someone’s back on the 1st. In Italy, it has become a game to go around asking people if they’ve seen the Pesce d’Aprile, and the one person who hasn’t is usually the unsuspecting victim!
(Perché Si Dice Pesce d’Aprile? Origini E Storia Degli Scherzi Famosi Del 1 Aprile – FocusJunior.it, 2021)
The media likes to prank the public on the 1st as well, with made-up alien attacks and outlandish stories. However, there have been some instances where the media got pranked instead and it was difficult to distinguish the real press releases from the fake ones. An example of the media creating a fake was in 2001. An Italian newspaper by the name of La Republicca announced that telepathy would’ve soon become a normal human mental faculty since a scientist had discovered that it was then possible, but that scientist was made up, they did not exist!
If you thought one day of light pranks wasn’t enough, in Scotland they created two days to go around pranking friends, family, and even neighbors. April 1 is called Huntigowk day, gowk meaning foolish person. On this day, it had been a tradition to play pranks such as sending their friends on wild goose chases.
(Holidays That Might Get… – Holidays That Might Get Overlooked, 2019)
A classic version of this is when the gowk would be given a message to bring to someone. This letter would read “Dinna laugh, dinna smile, hunt the gowk another mile.” This means that the person given the letter would have to tell the gowk to deliver ANOTHER sealed letter to someone else, with the same message on it. This would keep going on until the gowk realized that there was no truly important message and that they simply had gotten tricked! The second day is known as Taille day. On this day, everyone would pin tails on people’s backs. It is said that this is where the “kick me” sign prank originated from.
April Fools Day is widely celebrated and taken to great lengths in Greece. Several superstitions are believed about April Fools’ Day in Greece. Rain on April Fools’ Day, in some parts of Greece, is believed to have healing powers and pranks and jokes are relished, believing that successful ones bring the prankster good luck and well-being.
(The Ancient Greek Origins of April Fool’s Day – Greeker than the Greeks, 2020)
One of the most notable pranks in Greece was in 1982 when an alert was issued by Greece’s state-controlled National Radio Network claiming that pollution had reached emergency levels in the center of Athens. This meant that the city would have to be evacuated and many had taken the prank seriously and fled their homes. After three hours, the radio network had retracted their statement.
Although April Fools wasn’t originally celebrated in India, Western influences have made it widely popular over the years. It is celebrated by all ages, playing various pranks and jokes on this day. A similar holiday, the Holi festival, also has Indian people playing jokes and smearing colors on each other as a celebration of the victory of good over evil, the destruction of the demoness Holika.
만우절 (man-oo-cheo), April Fools’ Day in Korean, is a popular celebration amongst younger people. The first of April is also known to have special offers in shops and restaurants, even cinemas offer discounts if movie-watchers would come in a fancy costume. School pranks are elaborately planned and organized, for example, students may come to class with their school uniforms back to front.
It’s not just students who join in on the fun, office workers also often play pranks on their fellow employees. People may come to work to find their workstations covered in aluminum foil and various other mischievous acts.
Kpop idols and celebrities are also seen trying to trick their fans through social media. A few years back, the official Twitter account for girl group TWICE posted a tweet saying that “TWICE IS BACK” with a link to a video. Fans were greatly excited about their comeback, only to quickly get disappointed as the link sent them to a music video released back in 2015 of their debut song “Like Ooh-Ahh”.
Article by Lea, F. (Grade 11) & Selly, P. (Grade 11); Feature image by Karen, Y. (Grade 11)
The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.
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