1. April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) is celebrated every year on 1 April by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes.
2. The jokes and their victims are called April fools.
3. People playing April Fool jokes expose their prank by shouting April Fool.
4. Some newspapers, magazines, and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in small letters.
5. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country.
6. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392) contains the first recorded association between 1 April and foolishness.
7. The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbor is recognized everywhere.
8. Some precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India, and the Medieval Feast of Fools.
9. In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon. Thus the passage originally meant 32 days after March, i.e. 2 May, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “32 March”, i.e. 1 April. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.
10. In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on 1 April. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On 1 April 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.
11. In the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was celebrated on 25 March in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on 1 April. Some writers suggest that April Fools’ originated because those who celebrated on 1 January made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of 1 January as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century, and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.
12. In The Netherlands, the origin of April Fools’ Day is often attributed to the Dutch victory at Brielle in 1572, where the Spanish Duke Álvarez de Toledo was defeated. “Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril.” is a Dutch proverb, which can be translated to: “On the first of April, Alva lost his glasses.” In this case, the glasses serve as a metaphor for Brielle. This theory, however, provides no explanation for the international celebration of April Fools’ Day.
13. In the UK, an April Fool joke is revealed by shouting “April fool!” at the recipient, who becomes the “April fool”. A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK, and in countries whose traditions derived from the UK, the joking ceased at midday. A person playing a joke after midday is the “April fool” themselves.
14. In Scotland, April Fools’ Day was traditionally called ‘Huntigowk Day’, although this name has fallen into disuse. The name is a corruption of ‘Hunt the Gowk’, “gowk” being Scots for a cuckoo or a foolish person; alternate terms in Gaelic would be Là na Gocaireachd ‘gowking day’ or Là Ruith na Cuthaige ‘the day of running the cuckoo’. The traditional prank is to ask someone to deliver a sealed message that supposedly requests help of some sort. In fact, the message reads “Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile.” The recipient, upon reading it, will explain he can only help if he first contacts another person, and sends the victim to this next person with an identical message, with the same result.
15. In England ‘fool’ is known by different names according to the part where it is celebrated. If you are fooled on this day you may be known as ‘noodle’, ‘gob’, ‘gobby’ or ‘noddy’.
16. In Ireland it was traditional to entrust the victim with an “important letter” to be given to a named person. That person would then ask the victim to take it to someone else, and so on. The letter when finally opened contained the words “send the fool further”.
17. In Poland, prima aprilis (“1 April” in Latin) is a day in which many jokes are told; various hoaxes are prepared by people, media (which sometimes cooperate to make the “information” more credible) and even public institutions. Serious activities are usually avoided. This conviction is so strong that the anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I signed on 1 April 1683, was backdated to 31 March.
18. Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians and Swedes celebrate April Fools’ Day (aprilsnar in Danish; aprillipäivä in Finnish). Most news media outlets will publish exactly one false story on 1 April; for newspapers this will typically be a first-page article but not the top headline.
19. In Italy, France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, 1 April tradition is often known as “April fish” (poissons d’avril in French or pesce d’aprile in Italian). This includes attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.
20. In India, there have been numerous references to April Fools’ Day in both cinema and popular literature and people are jovially associated with the date. In Indian cinema, Bollywood’s movie April Fool (1964 film) along with its title song is also evergreen. Similar examples may be looked for in other art & craft related fields.
21. Books, films, telemovies and television episodes have used April Fool’s Day as their title or inspiration. Examples include Bryce Courtenay’ novel April Fool’s Day (1993), whose title refers to the day Courtenay’s son died. For further examples, see April Fool’s Day (disambiguation) and the IMDb’s listing of April Fool’s Day films.
22. As well as people playing pranks on one another on April Fools’ Day, elaborate practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and have been performed by large corporations. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. With the advent of the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ pranks can catch and embarrass a wider audience than ever before.
23. April Fool’s Day is not an official holiday.
24. A Joker, Court Jester, or Jokester have become the images associated with April Fool’s Day.
25. Some people spend a lot of money and time planning elaborate jokes.