How April Fools’ Day Is Celebrated Around The World
Here in America, we celebrate April Fools' Day by pulling savage pranks on the people we love, and a lot of us don't even really knowing why we do this. TBH, we don't need much of an excuse to joke around — the tradition alone is reason enough! With so many contemporary nonsensical national holidays, I was surprised to learn that April Fools' Day has actually been on the calendar for centuries. The holiday is literally woven through the comedic fabric of not only our country, but many others. How April Fools' Day is celebrated around the world varies, but one thing we can all agree on is that it's a day not to be taken too seriously. Aka, there's nothing holy about this holiday.
According to Snopes, April Fools' Day began all the way back in the 1500s! It started when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian and caused some confusion. New Year's used to be celebrated on April 1 back then, and the people who forgot the change and tried to celebrate the holiday on the wrong date were laughed at and called "April fools." That light-hearted sense of humor spun out across generations and countries, as it's clear that we're happy to hold onto an excuse to joke around. While American April Fools' jokes might be mostly rooted in bogus news and practical jokes, other countries have a slightly different spin in it, here's how:
In France, the first of April is known as Le Poisson d’Avril, which literally translates to "the fish of April" or "April fish." To celebrate, they eat fish-shaped chocolate figurines and tape paper fishes to each other's backs and yell “Poisson d’Avril.” Why? I can't really tell you, but I will say that it sounds fun and delicious.
Italians basically celebrate April Fool's Day the same way French people do, but instead, they call it "Pesce d’Aprile" which is "April Fish" in Italian. They eat chocolate fishes and tape paper fishes on each other's backs as a prank. That said, if you're traveling in Italy on Apr. 1, don't expect to make it through the day unscathed by Western pranks, the country has adopted a lot of America's April Fools' Day habits, too.
The Dutch like to lean into the practical joke aspect of April Fools' Day. They're known to trick each other by saying things like "oh no, your car was towed!" or "classes are cancelled today" and other light hearted gags. But what stood out to me the most was the Finnish tradition of saying “1 april, kikker in je bil, die er nooit meer uit wil,” at someone, which means “1st of April, frog in your butt, that never wants to come out again.” Like, WHAT? And, YES.
Legend has it that in Greece, a good prank will end up turning someone's misfortune into your good luck which really gives you a lot more reason to pull off a good prank, or avoid the holiday altogether. And Greece, like America, loves a good fake news hoax. In 1982, a radio station in Greece reported that there was a pollution emergency and called for a evacuation. The whole story was a hoax but people started actually evacuating.
When it comes to April Fools' Day in Russia, they're less interested in silly pranks and more focused on real comedy. To ensure that the people of Russia are guaranteed a few good laughs, many comedians schedule their shows for that date so that everyone has a chance to see something ~really~ funny.
In Brazil, April Fools' Day is called "Day of the Lie" or, "dia da mentira." While you might think that no one would believe anything that was printed on a holiday that literally has the word "lie" in it, the people of Brazil still manage to pull of some serious hoaxes.
No one really knows how the tradition started, but in England and throughout the UK, people play jokes on each other before noon. That's the rule, if you can pull the prank off before lunch, it's fair game. But pranks later in the day, or jokes that aren't revealed in the morning are a total no-no. TBH I wouldn't mind if we enlisted that rule here, too.