April Fools' Day – April 1st

This one day of the year has become the day you ‘trust NO ONE’ They will try to play a trick on you.

Going back to Roman times, at the end of March. During a holiday called Hilaria, people participated in all kinds of games, processions, and masquerades. One of the most popular activities was for commoners to dress up as nobility to ‘prank’ people.

In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In more modern times April Fools’ Day is done different ways. In France, for example, people still continue a long tradition of placing paper fish on their friends’ backs. The fish was meant to mark an easy-to-catch or gullible person, otherwise known as an “April fool.” And in most of the U.K. and Ireland, all pranks stop at noon. Anyone who tries to play a joke on someone else after that is considered to be a fool themselves. The Greeks, meanwhile, believe that a person who pulls off a successful prank will have good luck for the rest of the year.

There was an unusual prank done in 1962 in Sweden. A television station reported that if you put a nylon stocking over your black and white television set, you could see the picture now in color. The prank reportedly caused thousands of people to rush around their homes in search of stockings to cover their TV sets.

In 1992, National Public Radio ran a spot with former President Richard Nixon, saying he was running for president again… only it was an actor, not Nixon, and the segment was all an April Fools’ Day prank that caught the country by surprise.

There may have been one or two family members who were famous in the family for doing April Fools’ Day pranks. Start asking around with family relatives and see if you pin down who that ancestor was.

Photo: April 1st – April Fools’ Day

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

1950 Census


All Fool’s Day

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