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
UK joins the party
April Fools' Day begins to sweep across the UK.
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.
France sets the stage
The French adopt January 1 as the first day of the year.
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 - Survey Results
Survey data from a top Detroit PR Firm:
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
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!
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!
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
“Lie Day” for the Portuguese
In Brazil, this day is referred to as “Lie Day” or Dia da Mentira.
In France and some of the UK, they pin a paper fish to their prankee’s backs.
The Scottish prank their friends by pinning a tail on them or a “kick me” sign.
Some ancient European’s celebrated by trading status, age or gender roles for the day.
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
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.
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!
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 Featured Video
April Fools' Day Pranks Compilation