Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Oh No! the Joke Is on Us

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Oh No! the Joke Is on Us

Article excerpt

Byline: Sue Crammed

THE EXACT origin of the April Fools' Day tradition of pranks and jokes remains a mystery. One of the favourite theories has to do with the reform of the French calendar in the 16th Century.

In 1564 the start of the new year was moved from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to accept the change and clung to the old calendar were branded fools and had jokes played on them. One of the most common was sticking a paper fish to their back without them knowing.

The victims of this prank were called Poisson d'Avril (April Fish) and this remains the French name for April Fools' Day.

By the late 17th Century April Fools' Day had spread to Britain. One of the earliest pranks recorded there was sending people to the Tower (of London) ditch to see the washing of the lions.

It was a non-existent ceremony and the same prank was played on gullible people until the mid-19th Century.

Some famous 20th-Century April Fools' Day hoaxes

In 1962 the technical director of Sweden's only television channel, which broadcast in black and white, appeared on the news advising viewers that if they put a nylon stocking over their TV screen the picture would appear in colour. …

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