Although it's exact date of origin is unknown, April Fools Day may have started as long ago as April 1, 1582, when France changed from the Julian to Gregorian calendar, an action that purportedly led to the "poisson d'avail" -- the ritual of placing fish on another's back as a symbol of gullibility. In the 1700s, the Scots hunted the "gowk" or cuckoo bird, playfully sending people on silly or fake errands or tasks, while the English played more practical jokes on each other.
America has experienced her hoaxes and tricks on April Fools Day, among them the 1996 purchase of Philadelphia's Liberty Bell by Taco Bell. Last year, CNN reported on the top April Fools' pranks of all time; they added Pasta Growing on Trees in Sweden (1957), Mets' Pitcher Sidd Finch being the fastest pitcher of all time (1985); Alabama's legal redefinition of pi (1998); Cottonell's introduction of left-handed toilet paper (2015); Big Ben going digital (1980); color tv in Sweden as seen through nylon stockings (1962); the collapse of Seattle's Space Needle (1989); Google Gulp, a new drink (2015); and prohibition of the use of Internet while intoxicated (1994).
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- April Fools' Day.: Origin Of the Custom Of Making April Fools the Day In Europe and Here. (1871, Apr 02). New York Times (1857-1922)
- History Of All Fools' Day: Historical Jest. April Fools In England. One On Dean Swift. "Wise Fools Of Gotham." "Hunting the Gowk.". (1900, Mar 25). Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922)
- This Week In History: April Fools' Day. (1925, Apr 04). The Chicago Defender (National Edition) (1921-1967)
- Harlow, A. F. (1926, Mar 28). How April Fool's Day Got Its Reputation. The New York Herald, New York Tribune (1924-1926)
- Schaun, G. (1934, Apr 01). Ancient April Fools' Day and Its Unique History: Dr. William A Wirt's Disclosures May Not Have Been Influenced By Its Proximity, But It Has Aided Others In Gaining Publicity. The Sun (1837-1994)
- April Fools and Foolishness: Gags Date Back To Ancient Pagan Ceremonies. (1944, Mar 31). The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Lindheim, B. (1947, Mar 30). A Fool There Was. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Abrahams, A. (1968, Mar 28). April Fools' Day: A Question Of Origin and Purpose. The Sun (1837-1994)
- Daniels, H. (1973, Apr 01). The Modern Almanac: April Fools & Foolers. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996)
- Metcalf, S. (1986, Mar 27). Th'he Jokke's OOn Yo'ou: April Fools' Day Wanes, But Mischief Lingers. The Hartford Courant (1923-1994)
- Kilodney, C. (1989, Mar 31). A Literary Illusion For April Fool's Day. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Goldman, M. (1990, Mar 28). Fun and Fanciful Foods For April Fools' Day. The Sun (1837-1994)
- Check out the Museum of Hoaxes that "explores deception, mischief, and misinformation throughout history, playing host to a variety of humbugs and hoodwinks — from ancient fakery all the way up to modern schemes, dupes, and dodges that circulate online."
- Fool's Cap, World Map [1590}, Wikimedia
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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