April Fools’ Day is celebrated on the first day of April each year.

It’s the custom to play a trick or a joke on someone on this day for example telling friends that their shoelaces are untied or sending them on so-called fools’ errands.   If the person falls for the joke, then they are called an ‘April Fool.

Its true origins are unknown and effectively unknowable.   Many people believe that April fool’s day originated in France in the 1500s because they used the Julian calendar and celebrated the New Year with a celebration that concluded on April 1st.

Today, April fool’s Day is recognized throughout the Western world, where it is common for newspapers to publish false stories on the day and for people to play hoaxes on each other,

In France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and French-speaking areas of Canada and Switzerland, the 1st April tradition is known as the ‘April Fish’.   The fooled person is , perhaps in reference to a young fish and hence to one that is easily caught; it is common for children to pin a paper fish to the backs of unsuspecting friends.

In the UK, jokes and tricks can be played up until noon on 1 April. After midday, it’s considered bad luck to play a trick. Anyone who forgets this and tries a joke in the afternoon becomes an ‘April Fool’ themselves. In Ireland, a popular prank is to send someone on a ‘fool’s errand’. The victim is sent to deliver a letter, supposedly asking for help. When the person receives the letter, they open it, read it and tell the poor messenger that they will have to take the letter to another person. This continues and the victim ends up taking the message to several different people until someone feels sorry for them and shows them what the letter says: ‘Send the fool to someone else.’

Some newspapers, TV channels and well-known companies publish false news stories to fool people on 1st April.

In 1959, the BBCTV show Panorama report a Swiss spaghetti Harvest, and showed a Switzerland family harvesting spaghetti!

In 1962 the Sweden channel Sveriges Television was in black and white, so it told people they could convert their reception to colour by putting a nylon stocking.

On April Fool’s Day 1998, the American hamburger chain Burger King announced that it had created a left-handed hamburger. The advert for the ‘new product’ explained that all the ingredients had been rotated 180 degrees so that it was more comfortable for left-handed people to pick up and eat. The following day, Burger King admitted that this advertisement had been a hoax, but said that thousands of customers had gone to restaurants across the USA asking for a left-handed burger.

April Fool’s Day fans say it encourages fun and laughter, and one study found that it reduces stress and therefore could be good for your heart. Other people point out that it can have negative consequences, like confusion, worry or wasting time and resources.

I love April Fool’s Day. It can be really good fun. I love playing tricks on people and I don’t mind if people play tricks on me. It’s one day of the year you can be really silly and have a laugh and it’s OK. You have to be quite sensible for the other 364 days of the year, so I look forward to 1 April.

One of the most important things to remember is to have fun in safety, without making dangerous jokes.

In the era of ‘fake news,’ it’s often hard on a normal day of the year to work out when we’re being tricked into believing something that isn’t true, but on April Fool’s Day, you need to be even more alert. No one knows exactly how the tradition started, but there are plenty of people who enjoy this light-hearted day and are happy to keep the tradition alive.

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