April 1st is known as the day for pranks and hoaxes. But why? Who decided this would be the day for shenanigans?
Crosley’s great-great-great grandfather crocodile loved to pull pranks. He’d send his kids on phony errands (fetch me the gizmo that turns off the sun, etc.) and set up elaborate mazes with a “prize” at the end. The prize was a swamp. He’d sit beside the swamp and laugh (Yerk! Yerk!) as the young neighborhood crocodiles fell in. He is the founder of the annual day of high jinks.
APRIL FOOLS! None of that is true, though we suspect Crosley does come from a long line of witty crocodiles who don’t mind a prank now and then.
In truth, we don’t know exactly where April Fools began. Some say it was 1852 when France switched from the Julian calendar, when the new year begins around April 1st, to the Gregorian Calendar when the new year began in January. Those who still celebrated the New Year in spring were “April Fools.” Others say the origin is much older, dating back to the Ancient Roman festival of Hilaria. During Hilaria, people would dress in disguises to fool friends and neighbors. Some people believe April Fool’s day is a nod to the arrival of spring and how it often fools us with a few days of warmth and sunshine before more days of cold and gray weather.
However it started, we do know that during the 1700s, it became a big deal in Britain. People learned from Crosley’s family (Yerk! Yerk!) and sent people on fake errands and pinned tails on unsuspecting people’s behinds. Over time, the pranks and hoaxes grew more elaborate. For example, did you know that in 1952, a major television network in Britain, the BBC, convinced people that Swiss farmers expected a record spaghetti harvest?
In the United States, Taco Bell said that it had purchased the Liberty Bell on April Fools Day 1996. The National Park Service held a press conference to tell people it wasn’t true. And in 1998, Burger King used April Fools’ day to announce the creation of a left-handed Whooper. Cottonelle unveiled left-handed toilet paper in a tweet on April 1st, 2015.
Less elaborate pranks include telling people it’s your birthday, swapping the salt with the sugar, putting fake ants on your friend’s lunch, or giving your friend or sibling a package of “donut seeds,” which are really just round cereal like Cheerios.
Enjoy April Fools Day! Remember to have fun without being mean or causing anyone harm. It’s best to prank your close friends and family, people you know well and can laugh with. And don’t be surprised if they prank you back!