April Fools’ Day has been around for a long time. In 1700 English pranksters popularized the tradition of playing practical jokes on each other. Some people say that it actually started in 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as mandated by the Council of Trent in 1563. At that point, people who didn’t get on board with the change, and continued to celebrate the new year during the last week of March through April 1, were laughed at and made fun of, as being gullible.
When I was a kid, my sisters and I took great pleasure trying to fool each other. We tried everything from saying they had a spider in their hair to switching the salt and sugar in the containers. Most of the time they were not fooled, but every once in a while, we were rewarded with a completely shocked sister, or even one who screamed. Historians mentioned things like dressing up in disguises or even that the weather got involved in the whole thing, by the unpredictability of the changing season. I think most of us have been fooled by that one, because we dress warmly in the morning and find ourselves too hot later on, or vise versa. Of course, the weather never sticks to just one day.
During the 18th century, April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain. In Scotland the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands. Gowk is a word for cukoo bird, which is the symbol of a fool. The second day was Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. I’m beginning to think my sisters and I weren’t very inventive.
These days people have really ramped up the process by using newspapers, radio, TV stations, and web sites to report outrageous fictional claims to fool their audiences. According to History.com, “In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.”
People are gullible, and some people have a mind that can easily come up with outrageous things. If you are the former type of person, today is going to be a day filled with pranks, because gullible people are well known to those who play on that gullibility. And if you are that prankster, today is your day. Happy April Fools’ Day!! Let the pranking begin, and the gullible people beware!!
There are times when my grandson can be the funniest guy around!! He isn’t always the comedian, but sometimes out of the blue, Josh pulls something like cutting a Jellyfish Ball in half and putting it on his head. Then putting on a goofy grin for the picture that you can’t help but take. And then you feel like you got a pretty good laugh out of it, but Josh got an even bigger kick out of it, because he loves to be funny.
Making funny faces is one of his favorite things to do, in fact, he is so good at it that it is sometimes hard to get a normal smiling picture of him. Most of them are a smirk, or a big toothy grin, or he might make a monster face. You just never know what to expect out of him. I think he has a combination of traites from his dad and his Aunt Amy. His dad in that he can keep a straight face in the middle of a joke, and his Aunt Amy in that you never know exactly what he will pull for a laugh…like the half a Jellyfish Ball on his head.
Being the youngest child and grandchild, Josh was usually the one who had tricks pulled on him, so he had to work his way up the ladder when it came to the practical jokes, but he is pretty observant, and like most kids, picks up on stuff quickly. He loves to tell me that his mom is sleeping, or not home when I call, and he can do it without laughing. After a while, I begin to wonder if he is telling me the truth, and she is asleep. So when I ask, “Why is she sleeping this early?”, then he hands her the phone and walks away satisfied that he won…and he did, because he convinced me that she really was sleeping…the little pest!!
Sometimes, things backfire on him though, and that can be pretty funny too. Friday, he was at his brothers football game. He was playing with a balloon and when it popped, it managed to be the only really quiet moment in the game, so everyone heard it. I thought it was going to snap the man in front of him, but it went right over his head. Josh tried not to show it, but he was very embarrassed. Not that his embarrassment lasted long. He quickly recovered when the people in front of him started laughing and joking about the whole thing too. That helped Josh recover his funnybone!