April Fools' Day

annual celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes
(Redirected from April Fools)

April Fools' Day (also known as April Fool's Day) is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. On this day, practical jokes (or April Fools) are played on friends and family. The jokes are done to embarrass them. In some countries, April Fools only last until noon, and if someone plays a joke after, they are an April Fool.

April Fools' Day
April Fools' Day
An "April Fools' Day" hoax marking the construction of the Copenhagen Metro in 2001
Also calledAll Fools' Day
TypeCultural, Western
SignificancePractical jokes
DateApril 1



People have set aside a special day for playing jokes for centuries. The ancient Romans had a holiday called Hilaria.

In the Middle Ages, New Year's Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year's was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Some people think that April Fools' started because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.

Long standing customs


United Kingdom


This custom makes no sense at all until one remembers how much colder the climate was before the 19th/20th century. Great rivers like the Thames were frozen over in the winter, and young people used to skate on them in wintertime.

In the U.K., a person playing a joke would yell "April Fool!" at the recipient. According to tradition, the joking was supposed to stop at midday.[1]



In Scotland, April Fools’ Day used to be for two days. One of them was called Gowk’s Day. "Gowk" in Scots can mean either a cuckoo or a fool. Playing pranks on someone on April Fools’ Day was called "hunting the gowk." A classic prank was to ask someone to deliver a closed letter with a note inside. This note would tell the receiver to send the messenger on another silly task, then another... until someone felt sorry for them.[2]

Nordic countries


In the Nordic countries, many news outlets would publish or broadcast a fake news story on April 1.



In France, an April fools joke is called a "Poisson d'Avril'. One tradition there is to try and stick a paper fish on one's friends back, and shout "Poisson d'Avril!' when it is discovered.

Media outlets


Sometimes a large media corporation would broadcast or publish a fake news story on April 1. For example, in 1957 the BBC broadcast a story about spaghetti trees. According to the story, people in Switzerland grew spaghetti on trees. Later, many people called the BBC asking how they could get a spaghetti tree.

  1. The Independent newspaper
  2. "April Fools' Day". Twinkl Ltd. Retrieved 1 April 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Other websites


  Media related to April Fools' Day at Wikimedia Commons