The first of April, also known as "All Fool's Day" is something of a carnival for pranksters. It dates back to 1582 in France!
Up until that point in time, the New Year was celebrated for 8 days beginning on March 25 ending on April 1. (This changed when the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in the New Year moved to January 1). Due to the lack of internet, phones and the postal service, many people didn't get the news of the change of the New Year. Still other people refused to adopt the new date for the new year.
These people were labeled "fools" (by the media, no doubt) and were sent on "fool's errands" tormented with practical jokes and teased.
The practice of mocking these people transitioned from full time ridicule to pranksters on April 1st.
It spread to England and Scotland and eventually the colonies. It continues to this day, throughout the world.
In Scotland, April Fool's Day is actually a 2 day celebration. The second day involves pranks to the buttocks... And there you have the origin of the "Kick Me" sign that gets taped to someone's back.
(On a side note.... in our family, we have a tradition of pranking the groom on wedding day. Allie and Ashley wanted to pull a prank on Damian at his wedding, but were horrified that someone would "kick" him. So, they changed the wording of the prank to "Kiss Me".... You can imagine the laughs that pursued when the DJ saw the sign on Damian's back and planted a big kiss on Damian's cheek before his wedding!)
So while there are many pranks played on family and friends, there are also large scale pranks commemorating April Fool's Day. Here are just a few:
1. On April 1, 1957 the BBC broadcast a news show about Swiss farmers having a huge Spaghetti crop. Images of women plucking spaghetti from the trees were shown. Many viewers called the BBC news corps to find out where they could grow their own spaghetti tree!
2. In 2004, NPR had a program where they announced the creation of portable zip codes, where a person could keep their zip code if they move across the country or around town. Many people were seriously concerned, resulting in a formal announcement of the prank.
3. In 1998 Burger King took out a full page ad for their "Left Handed Whopper Burger" with all the condiments 180 degrees from standard to make it easier for left handed burger eaters. The next day Burger King issued a statement that it was a hoax, despite thousands of people requesting the sandwich in Burger Kings.
And lastly, some absolutely wonderful quotes about fools!
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt" -- Mark Twain
"However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him" -- Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux
"Looking foolish does the spirit good" --John Updike
"Let us be thankful for the fools. But for the rest of us could not succeed"-- Mark Twain