Be prepared, friends! We will celebrate April Fool’s Day on 1 April! Sometimes called April Fools’ Day, it is an annual celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing practical jokes or harmless pranks and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes often expose their prank by shouting “April fool(s)” at the unfortunate victim(s). Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in smaller letters.
As well as people playing pranks on one another on April Fools’ Day, elaborate practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, websites, and have been performed by large corporations. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. At the time spaghetti was relatively little known in the UK, so many Britons were unaware that it is made from wheat flour and water. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. The hoax was later known as the Spaghetti-tree hoax.
The practice of April Fool pranks and hoaxes is controversial. The positive view is that April Fools’ can be good for one’s health because it encourages jokes, hoaxes, pranks, and laughs, and brings all the benefits of laughter including stress relief and reducing strain on the heart. The negative view describes April Fools’ hoaxes as “creepy and manipulative”, “rude” and “a little bit nasty”, as well as based on schadenfreude (he experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another) and deceit.
When genuine news or a genuine important order or warning is issued on April Fools’ Day, there is risk that it will be misinterpreted as a joke and ignored. On the other hand, sometimes stories intended as jokes are taken seriously. Either way, there can be adverse effects, such as confusion, misinformation, waste of resources (especially when the hoax concerns people in danger) and even legal or commercial consequences.
If you want to celebrate April Fools’ Day by playing a joke or a prank on someone, make sure that the joke or prank is a nice one! Do not joke on something that is considered sensitive or insulting by that person. And if you want to spread a hoax, make sure that it is not something that could create a mass confusion or even hysteria! Because with the advent of the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ hoaxes can catch a wider audience than ever before.
If you do not celebrate April Fools’ Day, you could still share the spirit by making someone laugh. Who knows, maybe it is what he or she needs to get through their day!
How about you? Tell us your favorite April Fools’ Day activity, or share your most memorable April Fools’ Day celebration!