The Origins of April Fool’s

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Cole Tessitore, Staff Writer

One of the most overlooked holidays in the US, observed or celebrated on the first of April every year, is April Fool’s Day. Now that pranks have gone mainstream and have endless outlets, April Fool’s Day seems to slip the minds of many each spring. But where exactly did this quirky holiday originate?

Staying true to being an oddball of a holiday, the origins of April Fool’s are actually pretty mysterious. According to the History Channel’s website, the holiday possibly dates back to the late sixteenth century. Europe had recently switched to the Gregorian calendar, which added a couple of months to the year, so this may have allowed for pranks to happen without any suspicion, since many people didn’t know what day it was. Other theories about its origins include being associated with the first day of spring — it was perceived that Mother Nature was playing pranks by having drastic weather changes (history.com) .

Whatever its origins, the holiday must have struck a chord with people, because by the nineteenth century, “kick me” signs and other crass labels were being taped to the backs of unsuspecting individuals in Britain. As April Fool’s spread across the globe and became more popular, the pranks became more elaborate and creative. Numerous prank radio reports flooded the airwaves in the middle of the twentieth century, fast food chains used the holiday for publicity stunts, and even magazines wrote up absurdly false articles for April Fool’s (history.com).

Seniors Sophia Jimenez and Rachel Thomas often partake in prankful festivities on April Fool’s. “My favorite prank is prank calling,” said Jimenez. “I think tricking people is really fun, too; like calling Taco Bell and asking them stupid questions.” Thomas participates in similar pranks as well: “I like to tell people there is hot chocolate over in some random area at school and they believe me, but once they walk around trying to find it, they realize there’s no chocolate.” Jimenez also recounted a time when she parked her mom’s car behind a tree and convinced her it was stolen. Senior Jalen Lefear claims April Fools is his favorite day. “I like to put superglue in my friends’ locks and I like to trip people too,” said Lefear.

Many pranks have expanded beyond April Fool’s Day, and many influencers and media sources have capitalized on this. There have been a flurry of YouTubers and social media stars partaking in pranks and tricks. Two of the most controversial, yet wildly popular, being Jake and Logan Paul. The two brothers have found success in prank videos and conducting publicity stunts to gain attention and fame, and to pretty effective results. The brothers combined have around forty million subscribers on YouTube (youtube.com). The Paul brothers repertoire of pranks include dating each other’s exes, marrying fellow YouTubers, and even starting fake fights, feuds, and scandals just to take advantage of the profound effects of sensationalism.

While some pranks and stunts can be scandalous and controversial, other pranks by big names and corporations can be way less harmful, and a whole lot more fun. In 1980, the British Broadcasting Company announced that the famous landmark, Big Ben, would convert to telling time digitally (bbc.com). Just a decade later, Taco Bell announced through ads in multiple publications in the US that it was purchasing the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania, truly living up to the name “Taco Bell” (mentalfloss.com). Perhaps the most baffling of pranks was when a local Alabama news letter stated that Alabama legislature would change the value of pi to the a whole number, being three of course, because of the Biblical significance the number three has. All of these pranks resulted in a frenzy of confused callers asking if any of it was true, and of course it turned out none of them were.

April is fast approaching, so make sure you take the time to plan out a couple of good pranks in advance. Take into consideration who you can prank, and be careful not to forget the date and end up being the butt of the joke.