Today is April Fools’ Day! Check out these fascinating facts about this infamous holiday of pranks – and we promise they’re all 100% true!
1. April Fools’ Day history is a bit of a mystery. No one really knows the true story of April Fools’ Day, but some historians believe it goes back to a calendar change in the 16th century. Before the modern Gregorian calendar was created – the one we still use today – New Year’s Day actually fell on April 1st! Apparently when the switch was first made, some folks were resistant and wanted to continue celebrating the new year on the 1st of April. This eventually gave them the nickname “April fools” – a possible origin to the holiday’s name!
2. April Fools’ Day became popular during the 1700s. During this time, April Fools’ Day exploded in Britain, eventually reaching its way to Scotland. In Scotland, April Fools’ Day continues to be a two day event, with the second event exclusively focusing on “back side” pranks – like pinning fake animal tails on unsuspecting friends!
3. People have divided opinions on April Fools’ Day. You might think that everyone loves pranks in good fun, but polls show that people’s opinions are very divided. According to a recent survey, 45% of adults are amused by pranks while 47% find them annoying!
4. There have been some mind-blowing hoaxes over the years. One of the most famous April Fools’ Day pranks occurred fairly recently, in 2008, by none other than the BBC. The BBC is a trusted authority for nature documentaries – in fact, we’ve recommended their Planet Earth series several times on our blog! But in 2008, the BBC aired an entirely fake special featuring penguins that had evolved to learn how to fly. Millions were duped into believing penguins were capable of flight, only to be disappointed when it was revealed as an elaborate (and expensive) hoax. Check out the famous clip here!
5. Sometimes April Fools’ Day pranks have gone horribly wrong. A famous example of a prank backfiring is known as the “Jafr alien invasion.” In 2008, a popular newspaper published that UFOs had landed in a nearby desert. The town immediately went into a panic, with parents even refusing to send their children to school! The mayor prepared for an evacuation of 13,000 townspeople before the newspaper revealed it was only a prank, who claimed it was never their intention to scare people. Talk about a prank going too far!
6. In most cases, April Fools’ Day pranks are all in good fun. A classic April Fools’ Day prank – also carried out by the BBC – occurred in 1957. The BBC ran a television special featuring spaghetti trees that could be harvested for freshly grown pasta. The BBC was soon flooded with requests to purchase these trees and had to declare the segment a hoax the very next day!