Foolish Games

There’s a great tradition behind April Fool’s Day. The time of practical jokes and pranks has several long standing customs in many countries.


It is believed that the funny habit was first mentioned by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales in 1392. But there were also other sources, like French and Flemish poets who wrote about April Fool’s day throughout the Middle Ages. Usually, besides playing harmless jokes, hilarious hoaxes are also prepared: in the Nordic countries, newspapers publish a false story each year, while in Italy, France and Belgium, people attempt to put a paper fish to the other’s back – the tradition is also called April fish.

The most famous hoaxes were so successfully performed, that many people believed them to be completely true. In 1957, the BBC show Panorama broadcasted a segment about a spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. They showed people pulling pasta off the spaghetti trees adding: “For those who love this dish, there’s nothing like real, home-grown spaghetti”. After the show aired, hundreds were calling the station asking for advice on how to grow their own spaghetti plantation. The BBC’s response was: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

The other prank that is considered to be the most awesome one came from Sweden, where a television channel covered the story of a “technical expert” who discovered a method of viewing coloured images on the screen of a black-and-white TV set. Viewers were advised to cover the TV screen with a pair of tights, so that the images would appear in colours. Thousands started to follow the not so clever instructions. Later, in admiration of the joke, Sweden colour broadcast also started on 1 April in 1970. But in 1998, Burger King also pulled a trick: the Left-Handed Whopper. The 32 million left-handed people living in the US around that time went crazy for the “unique burger” and queued at the restaurants!

So, what are you going to joke about this year?