One would think that there was an end in sight for slightly unusual traditions in the U.K. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t mentioned them on more than one occasion – see my blogs about Water most Fowl and Eleventy More Water Trivia amongst others.
It would seem, though, that this is so not the case. There are oodles of quirk packed into the island(s)!
In honour of April, here’s the skinny about how April Fools’ Day originated.
Change of Calendars
One belief is that the reason All Fools’ (or April Fools’) Day now falls in April is related to the 1582 implementation of the Gregorian calendar reform in France, which shifted the marking of the arrival of the new year from a week-long gift-giving celebration spanning March 25 to April 1 to a single-day observance on January 1.
In the Julian calendar, the old calendar, New Year was celebrated from March 25th to April 1st. The first day of the Gregorian calendar is January 1st.
“When some people, whether out of stubbornness or lack of information, persisted in celebrating the New Year at the end of March, others started to mock … with gag gifts and other teasing gestures”.
Britain didn’t accept the new calendar until 1752. (Because we’re a little pig-headed like that).
April fooling became popular in England and Scotland during the 1700s.
The best known public prank is the 1957 news show broadcast by Panorama. It was a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. This was apparently because of an unusually mild winter and the “virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil,” with video footage of a Swiss family pulling pasta off spaghetti trees and placing it into baskets. The show said: “For those who love this dish, there’s nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti.”
Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC simply said: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
Now you must know that this was a good April Fools’ prank because I wasn’t even dreamed of in 1957, but I remember hearing about the spaghetti trees story as an adult many, many moons later.
I personally have zero sense of humour about being pranked and have so become a tad wary about any interaction on the morning. I am still rather amazed though, about a particular wicked prankster friend and another horribly, horribly gullible mutual friend. I won’t detail the prank suffice to say that it involved news of a pregnancy and the ‘fact’ that the baby was not the husband’s. I’m still gobsmacked that said gullible friend didn’t catch on.
Anyhow, that’s my input about April Fools for you. I’m heading off to our water cooler to replenish my water glass & to eavesdrop – see if I can pick up on any other corkers that have worked. Slainté!