April Fish!

Across the world, there are several variations of playing an April Fool’s joke on a goodnatured friend, co-worker, or family member.

Although the exact history of where the tradition originated is unknown, the most likely answer appears to date back to when the Julian Calendar was updated to the Gregorian Calendar. When the start of the New Year switched from March to January, April “fools” could be tricked into believing it was a new year.

Whether or not that story is true, the fun of playing a practical joke is enjoyed in countries all over the world on April 1. Here are just a few variances on the tradition:

In France, you are an “April Fish” if you are young enough to fall for a trick. Similarly, sticking a paper fish to someone isn’t uncommon in Italy.

In England and Ireland, tricks are only played in the morning; to play a trick on someone after 12 noon is considered bad form.

Newspapers in Norway and Sweden often publish a hoax story among the real news to have fun by fooling the general public.

The Portuguese sprinkle a little flour on each other’s backs so foolish tricks won’t “stick” to anyone as they go about their day on April 1.

In Scotland, April is begun with a “Gowk” being given a letter or note to drop off with a friend. The contents of the letter instruct the recipient to deliver it to someone else, and so on, throughout the day, rather like a human chain letter.

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