April Fool’s Day is celebrated the world over on the 1st of April each year. It is also known as All Fool’s Day, and is celebrated by pulling pranks, practical jokes and tolerating silliness in general. In some countries, like New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, the UK, and South Africa, the jokes and the pranks last all day, while some other countries only celebrate April Fool’s until noon.
Nobody is quite sure how the holiday came about, but the earliest record of having April 1 associated with foolishness can be traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Some other sources speculate that the holiday has to do with how the New Year was once celebrated for 8 days from March 25, which then made April 1st the beginning of the New Year. When the Gregorian calendar was introduced under the reign of Charles IX, however, New Year’s Day was moved to January 1st. News back then didn’t spread as fast as it does now, and so other people weren’t able to receive the news for several years, while others who did, refused to accept this new calendar and persisted on celebrating the New Year on April 1. These people have been labeled as fools by the general population and have been subjected to ridicule which eventually evolved into prank-playing on the first day of April.
Here is a short list of some of the world’s greatest April Fool’s Pranks:
- On April 1, 2010, Gmail had a ‘vowel outage’ which resulted in words that were spelled without vowels in Google’s webpage. This year, Google introduced a new app for the android phone, called “Google translate for animals” which supposedly helps you understand your pets better.
- In 1965, BBC had the Smell-o-vision. The network featured an interview with a man who claimed that viewers at home were able to smell the odors coming from the TV studio. The show went on to demonstrate this by having “viewers” call in with claims that they could smell these odors, which was able to convince the viewers at home that it was true.
- In 1998, Burger King placed a full page ad in USA Today with an announcement that they were going to release a “Left-Handed Whopper” for 32 million left handed Americans. The whopper has been redesigned to fit more comfortably in the left hand and will result in fewer condiment spills for left-handed burger lovers.
- The 1999 Y2K CD Bug- In 1999 Warner Music Group and Universal Music group, with the help of a popular Canadian radio station announced that the Y2K bug will affect all CD players and render each CD, made before 2000, unreadable. Fortunately, they had a hologram sticker that would enable CD players to read the old-format discs. Within minutes of their announcement, the phone lines were immediately congested and people were demanding to get these stickers for free. The calls continued even after the radio station had announced that it was a joke.