As spring starts to settle in, it’s always fun to enjoy a lighthearted holiday like April Fools’ Day.
From funny family pranks to mass media tricks, this holiday is sure to turn heads and surprise you when you least expect it.
But when did the fun first start?
The Origins of April Fools Day
Dozens of countries have been celebrating April Fools Day for centuries, but the origins are still somewhat unknown. One of the oldest signs of April Fools festivities come from ancient Rome when the cult Cybele had parties at the end of March where participants would dress up in disguises and make fun of one another.
Some think Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales written in 1392 inspired the holiday. In one of the stories, a character is tricked by a fox 32 days after March, which would have been April 1.
Another common belief is April Fools Day started when France switched over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1563. Since news traveled slowly back in the day, many were mixed up by the switch and didn’t realize the new year now began on April 1.
Historic April Fools Day Pranks
Whether April Fools Day commenced in Rome, France, or elsewhere, the holiday has been sparking humor ever since. Major news stations from around the world take part in the celebrations and have made some hilarious jokes.
For example, in 1957 the BBC reported a record spaghetti crop from Swiss farmers and showed hilarious footage of farmers gathering noodles from trees. In 2008, the BBC did another funny spoof showing the trailer of an upcoming documentary about flying penguins. Jokesters can still watch this genius penguin prank on YouTube.
In 1989, a local Seattle comedy TV show shut down the 911 lines in the city with a prank about the Space Needle collapsing – even though the footage read “April Fools Day” in the headline.
Brands have caught on with funny product announcements too. Both Burger King and Cottonelle have claimed they would offer left-handed whoopers and toilet paper. And one time Taco Bell advertised in newspaper ads that it would buy the Liberty Bell and change the name to Taco Liberty Bell. Some people took the joke so seriously that the National Park Service had to deny the news in a press conference.
DIY April Fools Day Tricks to try at Home
Now that you’ve gathered some inspiration from the top tricksters, it’s time to try out some jokes on your friends and family at home!
Food Mix Ups
One of the easiest pranks is switching food bottles. A classic example is swapping salt and sugar. For those that drink orange juice every morning, the orange cheese powder from a mac ‘n cheese box is the same color. Or bring in a box of donuts to work but then trick the first person to open the box when it comes filled with vegetables.
Someone you know is bound to be terrified of snakes, spiders, or bugs. Get some fake ones (it’s even better if they move!) and watch them squirm.
Tape an airhorn at the bottom of a desk seat or behind a door to get someone to jump up in shock.
Rearrange all the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen, or completely rearrange your living room so family members are confused when they first wake up in the morning. You can also do a flip flop on their phone or desktop by switching all the apps and browsers in different locations.