English 英语口语 论坛 英语语法 同步学习
当前位置: 中外节日 > 愚人节


What is the origin of April Fools' Day?

[2024年3月31日]  来源:网络  整理:Geilien.cn            

April Fools' Day

April Fool's Day is celebrated on 1 April in many countries around the world. On this day, people traditionally play practical jokes on each other and have fun trying to make other people believe things that are not true.

April Fools’ Day origins


The actual origin of April Fools’ Day is somewhat murky.


An article published by the Library of Congress notes that the first official reference to the devious holiday comes from a 1561 poem by Eduard De Dene, a Flemish poet who writes about how much fun it is to send his servant on a series of unnecessary tasks, which you might recognize as the origin of the term “fools errands.”


Nearly 500 years later, similar behaviors are outlined in a 1902 Akron, Ohio, newspaper article as a popular way to celebrate April 1.


“What strikes me is the fact that you’ve got these traditions in Ireland, in Scotland, in France. It’s an official holiday in the Ukraine. How did the concept of April Fools’ expand to these different countries?” Weiner says. “That’s the true mystery.”


Regardless, it’s clear we’ve been pulling pranks on our unsuspecting peers for centuries and while, yes, they’re often at someone else’s expense, we still can’t seem to help ourselves.


Even corporate giants like Taco Bell have gotten in on the gag, fooling the public back in 1996 with false claims of having purchased the Liberty Bell. Or PayPal, who once tweeted they were adding a new feature that would allow customers to print money from their mobile devices.


And there have been plenty of others, including the BBC who told gullible citizens in a faux news segment that the Swiss had harvested spaghetti from trees. A couple decades later, they claimed that London’s Big Ben was turning digital.


On a less humorous note, there have been several unfortunate instances in which important news released on April 1 has been dismissed as a hoax.

April Fool's traditions

In the UK, jokes and tricks can be played up until noon on 1 April. After midday it's considered bad luck to play a trick. Anyone who forgets this and tries a joke in the afternoon becomes an 'April Fool' themselves.

So, what kind of jokes do people play? Well, a simple example would be telling your friend that their shoelaces are undone. Then, when they bend down to do them up, you shout, 'April Fool!', and they realise their shoelaces are fine. Maybe it's not your kind of humour, but watch out, there's always someone who will find it hilarious! In Ireland, a popular prank is to send someone on a 'fool's errand'. The victim is sent to deliver a letter, supposedly asking for help. When the person receives the letter, they open it, read it and tell the poor messenger that they will have to take the letter to another person. This continues and the victim ends up taking the message to several different people until someone feels sorry for them and shows them what the letter says: 'Send the fool to someone else.'

In France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and French-speaking areas of Canada and Switzerland, the 1 April tradition is known as the 'April Fish'. A common joke is to try to stick a paper fish onto a victim's back without being noticed.

April Fool's Day in the media

Some newspapers, TV channels and well-known companies publish false news stories to fool people on 1 April. One of the earliest examples of this was in 1957 when a programme on the BBC, the UK's national TV channel, broadcast a report on how spaghetti grew on trees. The film showed a family in Switzerland collecting spaghetti from trees and many people were fooled into believing it, as in the 1950s British people didn't eat much pasta and many didn't know how it was made! Most British people wouldn't fall for the spaghetti trick today, but in 2008 the BBC managed to fool their audience again with their Miracles of Evolution trailer, which appeared to show some special penguins that had regained the ability to fly. Two major UK newspapers, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, published the 'important story' on their front pages.

On April Fool's Day 1998, the American hamburger chain Burger King announced that it had created a left-handed hamburger. The advert for the 'new product' explained that all the ingredients had been rotated 180 degrees so that it was more comfortable for left-handed people to pick up and eat. The following day, Burger King admitted that this advertisement had been a hoax, but said that thousands of customers had gone to restaurants across the USA asking for a left-handed burger.

Why do we pull pranks?


“We all have an innate desire to be mischievous. It’s part of our human nature,” Rob Weiner, pop culture librarian at Texas Tech University, tells Geilien.cn. “April Fools’ Day gives a way to play a prank on someone or a joke without doing too much harm.”


While they might not be harmful, not everyone appreciates being the butt of a joke. According to a 2021 YouGov poll, 47 percent of the American asked said that they found practical jokes annoying, while 45 percent said they were funny.


Unsurprisingly, most of the respondents preferred being the prankster rather than having jokes played at their expense.


“The underlying theme of it is to trick you, perhaps humiliate you or embarrass you,” Wayne Federman, comedian and professor at the University of Southern California, tells Geilien.cn.


Depending on the prank, this can be pretty amusing to the perpetrator — but not so much the victim.


“There’s a basic element of just lying to someone,” Federman tells Geilien.cn, adding that it’s human nature to trust someone’s words so we feel silly when we’ve been fooled, which is the opposite of what an actual joke is meant to do.


This April Fool's Day, remember that the best pranks are created with both cleverness and kindness.


"To me, the best high-level practical jokes are the ones where the person who's being pranked or tricked is so delighted at the level of expertise that went into creating the prank that they laugh at it with you ... you got me, this is incredible," Federman says.

April Fool's Day controversy

April Fool's Day fans say it encourages fun and laughter, and one study found that it reduces stress and therefore could be good for your heart. Other people point out that it can have negative consequences, like confusion, worry or wasting time and resources. For example, a spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said staff had 'lost their sense of humour' after they received more than 100,000 calls asking for invented names such as Mr C Lyons, Anna Conda and G Raffe! The callers were victims of a phone hoax, who contacted the zoo after receiving a text message encouraging them to make the call.

In the era of 'fake news' it's often hard on a normal day of the year to work out when we're being tricked into believing something that isn't true, but on April Fool's Day you need to be even more alert. No one knows exactly how the tradition started, but there are plenty of people who enjoy this light-hearted day and are happy to keep the tradition alive.