Foolish as it seems, sometimes it's fun to be the fool. The practical jokes of friends and family can be amusing on April Fools' Day. Of course, most of us still prefer to be the prankster, getting laughs with clever tricks and witty schemes. Prepare early for the next April Fools' Day (perhaps more appropriately known as All Fools' Day) with a few clever joke books; but first, read these fun facts about the holiday.
You couldn't always trust the calendar. Actually, the exact origins of All Fools Day aren't known, but the most prevalent theory ties the holiday to a 16th-century change in the European calendar. The New Year holiday was observed March 25 to April 1 in the Julian calendar year. The Gregorian calendar, however, moved New Year to January 1st. Many people who either didn't know of the change or didn't care to observe it continued to celebrate the New Year festivities on April 1st. Neighbors teased the holdouts as fools who weren't keeping up with the times. (Don't let this happen to you; keep calendars at work and at home so those obscure holidays don't sneak up on you.)
April Fools' Day had all the characteristics of renewal and fun. The holiday retains the spirit of spring renewal festivals, especially the Roman end-of-winter celebrations. April Fools' is a day of silliness that lifts the spirits after a long, dark winter. As with the day itself, the practice of playing pranks on unsuspecting "fools" evolved in obscurity. Friends played practical jokes on victims or sent them on fool's errands (snipe hunt, anyone?). Then, as now, the jokes were meant to be good-natured.
The victims of pranks became known as April fish. In France, the fool was called "Poisson d'Avril" (April fish), which refers to young fish that are easy to catch. Almost each prank involved a fish, and one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.
Jokes had a time limit. Traditionally, no pranks were to be played after 12 in the afternoon. If someone fell victim to the joke after noon, the perpetrator became the fool and, some believed, the victim of bad luck. Modern-day pranksters don't observe this rule much anymore. Still, if you want to keep with tradition, keep a clock or watch handy.
The ripped pants: Find a scrap of cloth, place a dollar on the floor, and stay nearby. When the victim comes by and bends down to pick up the dollar, rip the cloth loudly. Most people will reach back to see if they ripped their pants.
The forgetful coffee lover: Tape magnets to the bottom of an empty coffee cup, and attach it to the top of your car. Laugh at all the people who frantically try to get your attention as you drive by.