April Fools' Day – April 1, 2020

Wed Apr 1

April Fools’ Day on April 1 is a day where many of us unleash our most creative sides, all in a hilarious – sometimes over the top – attempt at bamboozling those around us.

Why do we do this, and where did it start? Well there surprisingly isn’t a concrete conclusion by historians. We’ll explore the possibilities below, but nevertheless, every spring we all put on our pranking caps to plan out the most devious and diabolical, yet safe and playful pranks we can think of, making this 24 hours possibly the most fun, exciting, and anxiety-filled day of the year!

History of April Fools' Day

Today, pranking on April Fools’ Day has transcended the confinements of the first day of April to become a year-round internet phenomenon. Thousands of videos on the most popular internet sites emerge everyday, pushing the pranking limit to sometimes dangerous territories. We do NOT condone this and below we’ll illustrate how to allow this holiday to remain true to what it was meant to be – safe, and well, hilarious! 

There’s no consensus on how it all began, but a popular theory is that while nowadays, January 1 is when we start the new year, this wasn’t the case before 1592. We used a calendar called the Julian calendar – created by Julius Caesar in 45 BC – which saw every new year begin on April 1! Crazy, we know. 

Pope Gregory the 8th created a new method for keeping track of days, which was the start of the calendar we all know and love – the Gregorian calendar. When he moved the date of New Year’s Eve it obviously took some time for everyone to catch on to it. Those who were a bit behind the times still celebrated on April 1, and were considered fools for doing so. 

One lesser known, often argued explanation for our beloved prank day is buried in a 1392 book called “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer. One line in this publication simply references “March 32”, and the debate to its meaning was born. Without much context and being dated so far back, the interpretation remains a mystery. Some believe it to be a joke, dawning this annual tradition, while some say it’s none other than a misprint. 

Whether we have Gregory the 8th or Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for April Fools’ Day, it has existed for centuries and will continue to cause a flurry of creativity and excitement in the first few weeks of spring.

April Fools' Day timeline

1700's

UK joins the party

April Fools' Day begins to sweep across the UK.

1592

Caesar vs. Pope Greg VIII

Gregorian calendar is introduced to replace the Julian calendar, changing the first day of the new year from April 1 to January 1.

1500’s

France sets the stage

The French adopt January 1 as the first day of the year.

1392

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucher writes the line “March 32” in his book, potentially birthing April Fools' Day.

April Fools' Day Media Coverage

April Fools' Day — KCRA (Sacramento, CA)

April Fools' Day - Survey Results

Survey data from a top Detroit PR Firm:

Additional Findings
 

 

FULL RANKING OF PRANKS AMERICANS PLAN TO PLAY ON APRIL FOOLS’ DAY
#1: Mind game prank (e.g. gradually moving someone’s desk until it’s far from its original spot) (17%)
#2: Scare tactics (e.g. rubber snake in a chair) (17%)
#3: Lying prank (e.g. saying you’re pregnant (17%)
#4: Prank phone call (13%)
#5: Food-related prank (e.g. toothpaste in an Oreo)
#6: Make it inaccessible prank (e.g. fridge taped up, phone in Jello) (11%)
#7: Elaborate, well-thought-out prank that I film on camera and post to YouTube (7%)
#8: Toilet-related prank (e.g. fake poop in coffee cup) (6%)
 

 

FULL RANKING OF PEOPLE AMERICANS PLAN TO PRANK ON APRIL FOOLS’ DAY
#1: Spouse/significant other (20%)
#2: Friend (20%)
#3: My kid(s) (15%)
#4: Co-worker (12%)
#5: Mom (9%)
#6: Boss (5%)
#7: Dad (5%)
#8: Neighbor (5%)
#9: Roommate (4%)
#10: Pet (3%)
#11: Teacher (2%)
#12: Enemy (2%)
 

 

FULL RANKING OF MOST POPULAR REACTIONS TO PRANKING
#1: Smile and say, “That was a good one” (45%)
#2: Prank them back (31%)
#3: Get mad but get over it (10%)
#4: No reaction (poker face) (7%)
#5: Quietly fume (5%)
#6: Terminate friendship and never talk to that person again (2%)

April Fools' Day FAQs

What is the most common prank on April Fools' Day?

From the combination of life experience and extensive research on this holiday, we find the most common pranks involve safe food swaps and the classic “tying someone’s shoes together” gag.

Is April Fools' Day celebrated world-wide?

Yes, it is celebrated across the globe! Although the names, goals, and rules for the day vary from country to country.

What if I don’t want to participate on April 1?

April Fools’ is a fairly harmless day that is meant to add fun and excitement. If you do not wish to partake, we recommend an inner-circle email or text to those around you in the weeks leading up. Just know that it’s a bad look to prank after asking not to be pranked!

April Fools' Day Activities

  1. Plan ahead

    Start early! Some YouTubers and internet stars have dedicated entire careers to pranking, so your inspiration can begin here. Some ideas get extreme, so be sure to choose ones that are safe but will still garner a great response!

  2. Practice your straight face

    Play it cool! You may not be a world-class poker player, but nothing ruins a good prank more than uncontrollably chuckling as you encourage a colleague to sit down at their desk after lunch. If they still don’t suspect that whoopee cushion, they really are an April Fool!

  3. Give them a not-so-sweet surprise

    Sour their sweets! This April Fools' staple never gets old. Swapping out some sugar for salt will have them questioning their choice for that second afternoon coffee.

5 FACTS ABOUT APRIL FOOLS' DAY AROUND THE WORLD

  1. “Lie Day” for the Portuguese

    In Brazil, this day is referred to as “Lie Day” or Dia da Mentira.

  2. France’s “Fools”

    In France and some of the UK, they pin a paper fish to their prankee’s backs.

  3. Scotland’s “Suckers”

    The Scottish prank their friends by pinning a tail on them or a “kick me” sign.

  4. Ancient Foolers

    Some ancient European’s celebrated by trading status, age or gender roles for the day.

  5. Fooled by the bell

    Taco Bell had residents of Philadelphia fooled when it playfully announced its acquisition and rebrand of the Liberty Bell.

Why We Love April Fools' Day

  1. It’s an excuse to act a fool

    It’s not every day you can play tricks on those around you and have a national excuse to get away with it! April Fools' Day is a chance for some – hopefully harmless – fun, and a great opportunity to show your creative side while getting a few laughs at the same time.

  2. It gives us something to do in that no-man’s land between winter and spring

    With spring sprung just a few weeks before, the weather is warming up and all that vitamin D can jumpstart your creativity in time for prank day. Go find a patio with some friends, and – responsibly – plot your targets!

  3. Groups can get in on the fun

    More minds are better than one! Gather up a team at the office, or choose sides at home. Your pranks will be more creative with more people working towards it. Just, remember that this leaves more people to keep the secret and not get busted!

April Fools' Day dates
YearDateDay
2020April 1Wednesday
2021April 1Thursday
2022April 1Friday
2023April 1Saturday
2024April 1Monday

April Fools' Day Featured Video

April Fools' Day Pranks Compilation