Many countries have adopted the April Fools’ tradition of playing jokes on people every year on April 1. It is unknown exactly how this foolish holiday began, but it’s the one day of the year that people can be unabashedly silly. It can also be taken to dangerous extremes, especially when it comes to fake news headlines that maybe seem a bit too realistic.
Although the idea of April Fools’ Day is similar across the globe, there are small differences and variations in celebration from one country to the next. For instance, France celebrates by putting fish images on people’s backs (usually an activity for children), while people in the United Kingdom only play pranks until noon. The unofficial holiday has spread to India, too, where children love to hoax their friends and shout out “April fool!” to the joke’s victim.
This day is known as the dia da mentira, or “day of the lie,” in Brazil. Like in many other countries on April Fools’ Day, news outlets will put out ridiculous headlines with false claims, and many individuals will tell white lies to each other to fool or prank their friends.
Throughout France (though mostly among children) April Fools’ Day is observed by sneakily sticking a paper fish to someone’s back. When the hapless victim discovers the prank, the successful prankster will yell out “Poisson d’Avril!” — which means “April fish!”
In Greece there are several beliefs around April Fools’ pranks, the first being that if you can trick someone, you’ll have good luck all year long. Other beliefs are that successful tricksters will enjoy a good year of crops, and that the water from rainfall on April 1 has healing abilities.
India’s younger generations are the ones that take part in this Western-influenced tradition, but all enjoy the fun spirit of April Fools’ Day. Kids love yelling out “April fool!” after hoaxing someone, and all will play silly pranks like making fake calls to friends.
In Ireland, April Fools’ Day is celebrated in several ways. Like in the U.K., the jokes and pranks on this day are expected to end at noon; those who continue to play jokes in the afternoon will themselves be thought of as foolish. Media outlets may publish hoaxes on April 1, and some drivers will drive on the right side of the road — terrifying, since they’re supposed to drive on the left!
As in France, many in Italy celebrate April Fools’ Day by sticking a paper fish to someone else’s back. This particular tradition is now mostly practiced by children, but on April 1 all Italians are looking to fool as many as possible with elaborate pranks.
In the United Kingdom, April Fools’ Day only takes place for half the day. Pranks and jokes can only be done until about noon — otherwise the jokester is considered the fool. So if you want to join in on the April fun, make sure to be up early!
In the United States, April Fools’ Day is celebrated all day, and many become excited in anticipation of the day on which it’s acceptable to play pranks on your friends. You’ll likely hear fake news on the radio, friends and family will try their best to make you seem gullible, and even coworkers may jump in on pranking each other. No one is safe!
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