Today is April Fools so even though it feels like we’ve been the victim of a very elaborate and disgusting prank over the past six years, remember to put your guard up and keep your sense of humor just in case someone decides to pull a prank.
It feels like we’ve been victims of a perpetual April Fools’ joke but for those who have memories of what life was like before we elected a clown and his circus into office, April 1 used to be a fun day.
Celebrated every April 1 each year, apparently for several centuries by different cultures, April Fools’ Day traditions include playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others, often yelling “April Fools!” at the victim.
According to history.com, historians speculate that April Fools dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian Calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. People who were slow to get the news or adapt to the new calendar became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” Pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day even, starting with “hunting the gowk” in which people were sent on phony errands and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs.
In modern times, people have gone through great lengths to create elaborate April Fools hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and websites have participated in the tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that fooled audiences.
In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees. In 1992, National Public Radio ran a spot with former President Richard Nixon saying he was running for president again… only it was an actor, and the segment was an April Fools prank.
In 1996, Taco Bell 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, Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper.” Google is known for hosting annual April Fools pranks.
April Fools pranks and hoaxes have usually been tolerated and even welcomed every April 1. The good-natured fun must have resulted in hurt feelings and maybe even injuries but yelling “April Fools!” both absolved the prankster and reminds the victim of the good-naturedness of the day’s events.
Let us beware of April Fools today, so we aren’t caught by surprise. It should be easy because our fake news radars have been honed by years of practice so we might not even have to go up an extra alert level so we don’t fall victims to any harmless pranks. What we may have to watch out for are the physical pranks, so just make sure to check the toilet bowl for cling wrap or taste your sugar/salt before adding to food.
What differentiates April Fools from all the misinformation and disinformation that we’ve been swimming in is that April Fools are 1-day only good natured pranks and jokes and the prankster usually ends it by letting victims know through the mandatory “April Fools!”
April Fools has lost its appeal in recent years because every day feels like it. We’ve have hoaxes and fake news raining down on us for years and almost everything we see on social media needs to be checked and double checked before being considered as fact. Destroying people and even their children with lies on social media has become normal and those who get caught either resort to saying “joke only” or “I’ve been hacked.” All because we have leaders who encourage such behavior and technology has provided the means to spread all these lies.
In the past, we would be wary of April Fools because we don’t want to be victimized. Today, April Fools has actually become welcome because it gives us respite from all the lies and propaganda. We can actually let our guard down today and assume that everything is an April Fools joke. If we do that, we might even get a giggle from my social media feed.
And tomorrow, we stop joking around and doubt everything again, because the world we live in has become one big running joke.
We can only hope and pray that our next set of leaders we put in power can take their job seriously so we can stop turning this country into an even bigger,never-ending joke.*