April Fool’s Day (also known as All Fool’s Day), observed on the 1st of April, is a lighthearted holiday celebrated with pranks and practical jokes in countries around the world.
The first of April, some do say
Is set apart for All Fool’s Day:
But why the people call it so
Nor I, nor they themselves, do know,
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment.
—–Anonymous, Poor Robin’s Almanac, 1790
Get to know more April Fool’s Day by learning how different countries celebrate this fun holiday.
ROME: The actual origins of April Fool’s Day are shrouded in mystery. However, it is known that the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria (March 25) was celebrated in part by playing practical jokes on friends.
FRANCE & ITALY: April 1st is known as Poisson d’avril in France and French-speaking Canada, and Pesce d’aprile in Italy (“April Fish”). The holiday is celebrated by taping a paper fish to a friend’s back, and then yelling, “April fish!” when the trick is discovered.
IRAN: On the thirteenth day of Norooz (Persian New Year) called Sizdah Bedar- which usually occurs on April 1st or 2nd – celebrants play pranks on one another. Because the practice goes back as far as 536 B.C., some historians consider it the origin of April Fool’s Day.
UNITED KINGDOM: In most of the UK (and the non-French speaking part of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Cyprus), tricks can only be played on April Fool’s Day until noon.
SCOTLAND: April Fool’s Day is called “Hunt the Gowk Day” – a gowk is a foolish person. Traditional pranks are played.
POLAND: On Prima Aprilus (April 1st), apart from individual joke playing and avoiding serious activities, media such as newspapers traditionally publish false news stories.
SWEDEN & DENMARK: Both countries celebrate April Fool’s Day in the usual way, but they also celebrate May 1st as a kind of additional day for pranking and jokes.
UNITED STATES: While today, April Fool’s Day is celebrated with joking, pranks, tricks, and hoaxes, in early America our Founding Fathers delighted in sending friends and family on a “fool’s errand” by asking them to fetch things that don’t exist such as sweet vinegar or sending them on a fruitless undertaking.
April Fool’s Day is also celebrated in the Netherlands, South Korea, Germany, Russia, and Japan.
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