An April Fool

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Practical joke at UNINETT

Practical joke at UNINETT (Photo credit: Andreas Solberg)

A day of trickery is fast approaching, and I’m sharpening my surveillance skills in preparation … I’ll be glancing over my shoulder, checking the sugar to make sure it isn’t salt, looking for fake spiders, and keeping a close eye on my two boys … so they can’t pull a fast one on Mom. At the same time, I’m cooking up a few schemes of my own … it is, after all, tradition. And it isn’t just friends and family members who get in on the act — practical jokers are everywhere.

Last year, I nearly fell for a DJ’s fake advertisements on the radio, until I had a few more sips of my morning coffee and realized what day it was – many other listeners weren’t so lucky and ended up calling the station in outrage over the silly ads.

A friend of mine plans all year for the trick she will play on her husband, and it is usually something outrageous — such as filling his car with cotton balls, or replacing all of his jeans with pairs three sizes too small.

On Sunday, I’m attending a surprise party where the hostess specifically requested tricks to be played on the guest of honor (talk about pressure – now I have to come up with a gift AND a prank?). It is shaping up to be quite an unusual party, and I have to wonder … what does the hostess have in store for her unsuspecting guests?

Also, what started this rather unusual tradition?

The widely-accepted explanation is this: When the Gregorian calendar was adopted by France in the late 1500s, it moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. Many people didn’t know of the change or forgot, and some were stubborn and refused to accept the new calendar. When they continued to celebrate on the wrong day, they were called the “April Fools.” This sounds like a perfectly logical explanation, but it doesn’t explain why April Fools’ Day is referred to in the Canterbury Tales (in the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” a story about a rooster named Chaunticleer who tricks a fox on April 1), which was written in England in 1392 – long before the calendar change.

Although the history is murky, it is clear that April Fools’ Day has been around for hundreds of years – that’s a lot of pranks and practical jokes. And whether you are playing a prank on a co-worker, your roommate, a family member, or your friends, you’ll want to be creative – check out these top pranks of all time.

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