Happy April Fish Day

Historians don’t really know the origins of April Fool’s Day (and there is some dispute about how to punctuate it), but some believe it goes back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. In the Julian calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox, which typically occurs somewhere around April 1st. Those sillies who didn’t get the news that the new year was now in January and who continued to par-tay in April got a paper fish on their back and were called “poisson d’avril.” An “April fish” is young and easily caught, like a gullible person.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the holiday. I just don’t like pranks. Most of them seem so mean-spirited, and never the “laugh with you instead of at you” variety.

I’m not sure when or why I decided this because I have very clear memories of switching the salt and the sugar on the kitchen table bright and early on April 1st to trick my dad into messing up his coffee. I was well into adulthood before it occurred to me he was obviously humoring me because he always drank his coffee black. He must have enjoyed the annual rite of seeing six-year-old Becky fall into helpless giggles when he added “sugar” to his coffee then made a terrible fuss, sputtering and demanding to know what was going on.

He was a good sport, but probably relieved when I outgrew that particular brand of shenanigan.

That said, there are some gentle and clever pranks I’ve heard about over the years.

• Burger King rolled out their new “Left-Handed Whopper” and people flocked to get one

• Taco Bell saying they were buying the Liberty Bell and renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell

• my nephew replaced all of his parents’ family pictures around the house with identical photos, except Photoshopped with his face on all the faces. My sister didn’t notice for a ridiculously long time.

• two classrooms of kids switched classes on their teachers

• the BBC ran an elaborate story about the year’s bumper spaghetti crop, complete with people harvesting noodles from trees

• In my work-in-progress a bunch of friends are having Thanksgiving dinner. Someone froze half a bowl of water with a serving spoon in it. Then they put real mashed potatoes over the top. When you go to pull the spoon out to serve some, you can’t do it.

• googly eyes on everything in the fridge

But my all-time favorite … Teacher Gives Fake Spelling Test

So much better than plastic wrap on a toilet seat, or the ‘ol salt and sugar switcheroo!

What are your feelings about pranks? Heard of any good ones?

35 thoughts on “Happy April Fish Day

    1. Awww, thanks Jean! My nephew’s prank was so elaborate and took so long to complete I started to wonder if he’d been adopted. None of us have that much drive and determination! And you’re absolutely right about my dad … he was awesome!

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  1. My parents met on April Fool’s Day 1955. They lived in different cities and their best friends got engaged and they each were asked to stand up with them at the wedding. They met my mom after she got off work to go to dinner and talk wedding plans and picked her up in a parking lot. They were married in July, 1956.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Last night, our mystery book club met at the library. One of the ladies brought snacks. She uncovered her plate and it looked like sunny side up eggs on toast. I really was cinnamon toast with yogurt and half an apricot. But she made us take a second look. Simple “pranks” are the ones I like.
    One year when I worked in accounts payable at a big hospital, our boss had someone it IT hack into one of my coworker’s computer and fix it so that when he entered an invoice, a big red screen came up with a message that he had dumped all the invoice history in the hospital data base. She started yelling at him until his face turned so red I thought he would have a stroke. I thought that was as mean as it could be. None of us knew about it. I don’t find those pranks funny at all. I tend to not participate because of that day.
    Carol

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I am also not usually a fan of April Fool’s – mostly because I’m not the sort of person who can come up with anything clever enough. But I’ve seen funny “fake news” out of companies over the years – a la the “Left-handed Whopper.”

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  4. My favorite April Fool’s prank was back in the 80’s when George Plimpton wrote a lengthy feature for Sports Illustrated on the fictional New York Mets pitching prospect Syd Finch. Among other things, Finch could throw a baseball 180 miles per hour and was afraid of having his picture taken. That edition came out on April 1, and pretty much everyone fell for it hook, line, and sinker. What a brilliant prank!

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    1. That’s hilarious! Not exactly the same thing, but it kinda reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” which I still find quite brilliant, and amazed how folks don’t realize it’s satire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read A Modes Proposal in English Literature in high school. The teacher was very clear, AFTER, we read it that it was satire. One of the few things I remember from that class!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was in 9th grade, but I think our teacher kept that part a surprise until after we read it. I wish I could remember what I thought as I was reading it!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Jim, our local newspaper in the U.P. likes getting in on April Fool’s shenanigans. A few years back there was a news report of a herd of more than 500 moose was migrating up from Wisconsin. A cop on patrol was surprised to see the bull moose leading the herd stop and look both ways before crossing the highway!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. April Fools Day is too often too much like the Three Stooges–mean-hearted, annoying, and down right stupid.

    But I do enjoy the silly and harmless jokes, like Carol’s friend, above, and her yogurt and eggs, or the teacher’s fake test. But I may just stay at home all day today, just in case…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m not into April Fool’s Day because I’m so gullible! Like the spaghetti tree, my dad once told me I could plant a marshmallow tree. However, he wasn’t so happy when I actually dug a hole and stuck marshmallows into the ground–he started worrying about an ant invasion!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’ll show him, Jen! My Dad was a master at the verbal prank. We moved to the very windy Casper, WY when I was in 4th grade. We pulled up to our new house, but the house across the street was just being built. City-girl Becky had never seen a house being constructed so asked him what was going on there. He told me it was so windy that house blew down. I believed him longer than I care to admit.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m very impressed by your nephew’s commitment to his prank! All of these are amusing and not mean. Right now, no pranks come to mind. But it could because as a lefty, all I can think about is that lefthanded Whopper.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. April Fool’s Day has always made me nervous—much more than any Friday the 13th. My husband and I were married on April 2, which was a lot more $$ than the 1st, but I was like, (Heck) no. I held my breath the whole rehearsal dinner. PW used to round up gag publishing news (like the launch of The Paris Review for Young Readers). Amazon once listed April Fool’s Day by Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew as its top selling title.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have totally gotten married on April 1st! So much opportunity for hilarity and mishaps. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that it would be so much cheaper, too. I do love a good bargain!

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    1. Cynthia, I love the google eyes! A while back, a neighbor in our apartments put googly eyes on a jog in the wall! Every time I came around the corner it made me smile, until one of the eyes disappeared. Then it was just sad.

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  9. That video is priceless!!! And oh my gosh, I love the story about your nephew!

    I’m not much of a prankster, but had in-laws that are. One in particular goes all out on April Fool’s with shenanigans like bubble wrapping cars, serving mashed potato sundaes to her kids, and oh so much more. Once the end of March rolls around, family members brace themselves for the (her?) big day!

    Liked by 1 person

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