April Fool’s Day: 8 Interesting Things And Hoaxes You Didn't Know

 @KukilBora
on March 31 2012 10:31 AM
A child in a costume reacts during a traditional April Fool's Day celebration in Skopje
A child in a costume reacts during a traditional April Fool's Day celebration in Skopje, Reuters

If you have a reputation of a prank master among your friends and you think that you haven't pulled the best one yet, roll your sleeve up for Sunday is the April Fool's Day.

Sometimes referred to as All Fools' Day, April 1 may not be a national holiday, but it is widely recognized as the day when people pull pranks on their friends, co-workers and even at times on strangers, and thanks to this odd tradition, no one takes it to his heart. While playing a little ruse on others always gives you fun, ever wondered how and why did it get started?

According to some people, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 1392 holds the earliest recorded association to the April Fool's Day. However, some other credit Pope Gregory XIII, who in the 1500s gave the world the Gregorian calendar.

In 1562, the Gregorian calendar went through a reformation, according to which the first day of the year was moved from April 1 to January 1. But many people remained unaware of the change and continued to celebrate New Year on April 1. Thus, they became the April fools, promptly made fun of by those in the know. Here's a video that gives more explanation on The History of April Fool's Day:

Starting from historical facts to odd hoaxes, the Fool's Day has many fascinating things associated with it. Here're some very interesting ones you might not be aware of.

When Royals Lie

Royal family and courtiers under the Joseon dynasty of Korea were permitted to lie and fool each other on the first snowy day of the year, regardless of their hierarchy. They used to send snow-stuffed bowls to others and the recipient of the snow was thought to be the victim of the prank. Being the looser in the game, the victim had to grant a wish of the sender.

Danes and Swedes Have Double Fun

In Denmark, May 1 is known as Maj-kat, meaning May-cat, and is also a joking day. Sweden celebrates May 1 as an alternative joking day. When someone is fooled in Sweden on May 1, people say the rhyme, Maj maj måne, jag kan lura dig till Skåne (May May moon, I can fool you into Scania).

April Fool - A Spy?

April Fool was the codename for a spy, who allegedly played a key role in the downfall of the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

According to General Tommy Franks, the commander of the US military in the 2003 Iraq conflict, April Fool was an American officer working undercover as a diplomat. He was approached by an Iraqi intelligence agent to whom he sold false top secret invasion plans provided by Franks' team. Getting misled by the trickery, the Iraqi military deployed major forces in Northern and Western Iraq, anticipating attacks via Turkey or Jordan, which never took place.

This greatly affected the defensive capacity in the rest of Iraq, making it an easy prey to the actual attacks via Kuwait and the Persian Gulf in the southeast. Consequently, Baghdad fell to the US within a few weeks and Saddam Hussein's government came to an end.

Pigasus Award

The Pigasus Award is the name of an annual tongue-in-cheek award presented by well-known skeptic James Randi. The award seeks to expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds that Randi has noted over the previous year. Randi makes his announcements of the awards from the previous year April 1.

Jafr alien invasion

On April 1, 2010, Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad published an article titled Jafr alien invasion and claimed that UFOs had landed in a desert close to the town of Jafr. The article even described the pilots as 3m (10ft) creatures and reported that all communications went down due to the effect generated by the objects.

The editors later said that the story was nothing but an April Fool's Day joke. However, the story did anger the then Jordan mayor Mohammed Mleihan as it caused much public panic.

Google Fooled Us, But Not Always

Google comes out with some healthy pranks on every April Fool's Day. So expect the search engine giant to have something in store this time too.

Yes, Google has fooled us many times, but it has chosen April Fool's Day and the day before it to announce some of its actual products.

Remember when Gmail was launched? It was shortly before midnight on March 31, 2004. With free web-based e-mail with one gigabyte of storage, the service was first thought to be a hoax. Six years later on the same day (March 31, 2010), YouTube implemented its new video page design.

On April 1, 2010, Google Street View received a new feature to toggle anaglyph 3D images.

Flying Penguins

Can penguins fly? A BBC video footage on April 1, 2008 tried to make viewers believe they can. BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins flying. In the video, presenter Terry Jones explained that these penguins flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they spend the winter basking in the tropical sun. The BBC later said that it was a joke and offered another video explaining how the special effects made the penguins fly.

Edible Book Day

Edible Book Day, also known as The International Edible Book Festival is held on or around April 1. It's celebrated in various parts of the world where edible books are created, displayed and then consumed.

According to the official Web site www.books2eat.com, the International Edible Book Festival is held to commemorate the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826).  April fools' day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the books are consumed on the day of the event, says the Web site.

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