It’s a day of sanctioned pranks and gags, jests and jokes and hoaxes. Dating back hundreds of years and recognized in countries all over the world, April Fools’ Day (a.k.a. All Fools’ Day) gives credible media sources an excuse to produce “fake news” and radio DJs permission to hoodwink their loyal listeners.

5 of the biggest April Fools' Day pranks of all time

Whether it’s strategically placed whoopee cushions, or elaborately concocted tall tales told to trick others, April Fools’ Day jokers mark the day on their calendar annually, so beware April 1 or be fooled. Here are five fun facts about this foolish holiday.

Foolish origins. Some historians believe that April Fools’ Day began in France, and was connected to Pope Gregory XIII’s adoption of the Gregorian calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. April Fools’ may have originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of the foolish folks who continued to celebrate it on other dates.

When in Rome. April Fools’ may also be tied to the ancient Roman Festival of Hilaria – also know as Roman Laughing Day – when citizens would celebrate the vernal equinox and honor the Anatolian Earth Goddess with a day of jokes.


Literary references. Geoffrey Chaucer made the earliest recorded reference to April Fools’ Day in the “Canterbury Tales” (“The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”) in 1392. Another literary reference to the day comes from the French poet Eloy d’Amerval, who in 1508 referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “Fish of April.” In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1 and in 1686, John Aubrey made the first British reference to the holiday as “Fooles holy day.” American author Mark Twain said this of April Fools’ Day in his novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” published in 1894: “This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.”

Something’s fishy here. In Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, the April Fools’ Day tradition is referred to as “April fish” (poissons d’avril in French, aprilvis in Dutch or pesce d’aprile in Italian). On April 1, pranksters would try to stick a paper fish (like a “kick me” sign) to someone’s back without being noticed. The act is featured on French April Fools’ Day postcards from the late 19th and early 20th century. False newspaper stories published on April 1 would sometimes include a fish reference as a clue.

April Fools’ Day celebrated. The Museum of Hoaxes established in 1997 is dedicated to exploring deception, mischief, and misinformation throughout history, playing host to a variety of humbugs and hoodwinks — from ancient fakery all the way up to modern schemes, dupes, and dodges that circulate online. In its Gallery of April Fool’s Day hoaxes the museum pays special tribute to April 1 — a day devoted to pranks and practical jokes. Check out the top 100 April Fool’s hoaxes of all time — including pitching phenom Sidd Finch #9, The Taco Liberty Bell #7, and the legendary Swiss Spaghetti Harvest #1 — at

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