From spaghetti growing on trees in Switzerland, to a ficitious republic consisting of a semi colon shaped Island called San Serriffe, we love to make people look a little bit silly on April 1st. It’s all the more satisfying when we see people taking these fictitious stories as a given, and sharing them on their newsfeeds.
Around the world, there’s one thing that’s certain, this notion of prank playing is definitely shared. So, we’ve collected our 9 favourite traditions and pranks from around the world for April Fool’s Day.
1. A fishy prank in France
In France, there’s a rather playful tradition when it comes to April Fools Day. People go around sticking paper fish to the backs of unsuspecting victims while trying not to be discovered. However, when the poor soul discovers the paper fish, the prankster will shout out “Poisson d’Avril!”— which means “April fish!” Originating in the 15th century, prank seekers would stick real fish to the back of victims without them knowing. The fish adorned victims would slowly walk around being sniggered at, until eventually they would recognise the stench, at which point the prankster would shout out ‘April Fish!’
2. Hunting the fool in Scotland
Scots are known for their great sense of humour and this is reflected in their April Fools celebrations. In Scotland, silly or gullible people are known as gowks, which is why they subsequently named this day Hunt the Gowk Day, where people go out in the attempt to prank the gowks. However, Scotland goes the extra mile and actually spreads the April Fools festivities over two days. The second day, or Tailie Day, is another day full of mischief with pranksters going around trying to stick tails on the backs of the poor victims. Better than fish I guess?
3. Where it all began in Germany
It is said that April Fools Day actually originated in Germany during the 1860’s, when a man named Gabriel Hoffman decided to play a little prank on lawmakers on April 1st by arranging a meeting, which turned out to be a rouse. The idea stuck and Germans gladly adopted it, however it is said to be bad luck if any pranks are played out after 12pm.
4. Día de los Santos Inocentes in Spain
Interestingly, in Spain, the national prank day is not on April 1st, but is actually on the 28th of December and is known as Día de los Santos Inocentes – or Innocent Saints Day. This is also celebrated across Latin America and The Philippines. The story has a rather dark background, originating from the biblical story of Herod the Great. Word had got out that the newborn king Jesus had been born and Herod was not happy. He ordered all children in Bethlehem under the age of 2 to be murdered, hoping that one would be Jesus. However, he was tricked as Jesus was actually in Egypt with Mary and Joseph. After this, the 28th of December became the day of the tricksters for these parts.
5. No escape in Sweden
April 1st, or första April in Sweden follows very similar guidelines to those found in the US in that they have a day full of pranks. However, instead of shouting ‘April Fools’ when someone is successfully tricked, they shout “April, April, din dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill!” which means “April, April, you stupid herring, I can trick you wherever I want!”
6. Giving a flour in Portugal
April Fools Day in Portugal is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday prior to lent. However, be wary if you find yourself here, as people have a tradition of throwing flour over unsuspecting victims – forget egg in your face, how about flour?
7. A lucky break in Greece
Greece also celebrates April Fools by tricking people with fabricated stories, all in good nature. It’s the time to think up the most elaborate and creative ones to trick your friends and family. However, there’s an extra bonus for people who carry out successful pranks, as it’s said you’ll have a year of good luck.
8. Fake news! (in the USA)
Unlike its English speaking counterparts, the USA celebrates April Fools all day on April 1st. This is usually when news outlets and big companies get pretty creative and think up the most elaborate news stories to be published. For example did you see Coca Cola’s new Coke Zero flavours released last year? Yuck.
9. Finishing early in the United Kingdom
Finally, to the United Kingdom, where Brits like to think they are the thinker-uppers of the cleverest pranks. From radio presenters telling listeners they can experience no gravity if they all jump at exactly 9.47am, to massive newspaper companies trying to fix the problem of discarded paper by stating their papers were now edible. Tasty.
So, wherever you are, make sure you’ve brushed up on what’s the best way to prank the unsuspecting victims this April 1st…