April 1st, 2015
Did you love playing practical jokes on people on April Fools Day? (And do you still enjoy it?)
Well, you wouldn’t be the first. Many big companies enjoy playing games as well. In fact, once upon a long time ago, the company Sun rewrote its homepage so no matter where the user clicked, it wasn’t where the cursor was. And the employees of Sun loved playing tricks on the founders including the time they managed to move Bill Joy’s car into the center of a pond behind the main campus.
Even the media enjoys hopping on the bandwagon. In 1957, the BBC ran a story about how spaghetti is harvested from trees. Quite a number of viewers contacted the station afterwards to find out how they could buy and grow a spaghetti tree. The BBC reportedly told them to “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”.
So how did all of this tomfoolery get started? (You knew we’d get to the history lesson sooner or later).
In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Many believe that April Fools originated because those who forgot and celebrated on April 1 were considered fools for not remembering the new date. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century, and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.
However, the earliest known historical reference to April Fools’ Day occurs in a Dutch poem published in 1561, which predates the adoption of the Gregorian calendar by some 21 years.
Another problem with the calendar-change theory is that it doesn’t account for a historical record replete with traditions linking this time of year to merriment and tomfoolery dating all the way back to antiquity, and not just in the west.
So, we just don’t know. But we do like that the French call it Poisson d’Avril which translates to “April Fish.” How can you go wrong with that for such a whimsical and fun day?
And if you want a total productivity waster, go to the Museum of Hoaxes and see Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time, As judged by notoriety, creativity, and number of people duped. We apologize in advance.
April Fools. We don’t really apologize. Have a fun filled day.