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?