April Fools’ Day history: Here’s who you can blame for every trick

April Fools’ Day history: Here’s who you can blame for every trick

Wow, several of your friends got engaged or announced a pregnancy today. Congrats!

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Wow, several of your friends got engaged or announced a pregnancy today. Congrats!

Or rather — April Fools!

Everyone is on edge for 24 hours, second-guessing every announcement and news article.

A look at who pulled the most successful April Fools’ pranks
We asked Alex Boese, curator of the online Museum of Hoaxes, who we have to blame for this awful tradition of annoying and tricking people.

“There’s a lot of fanciful stories about the origin of April Fool’s day,” Boese says, “and they’re all false.”

Blame the Dutch

“We primarily have the Dutch to blame for the day,” Boese says, but he clarifies that we don’t really know the concrete origins of April Fools’ Day. “All the earliest references to the holiday are from Dutch sources. As early as 1561, we find Dutch writers referring to April 1 as ‘fool’s errand day.’ By the 1700s, it was celebrated all over Northern Europe.”

China proves it can’t take a joke with April Fools’ Day ban
Or blame German journalists

Apparently German newspapers loved the idea of printing fake news stories on April 1. April Fools’ Day, Boese tells us, “was originally a day on which people played physical pranks on each other (practical jokes), but when the media got involved, telling tall tales, it became more broadly a day celebrating comedy.”

Since then, it’s spread to advertising and social media.

Boese’s favorite April Fool’s hoax?

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax, in which a British news show ran a “spaghetti harvest” segment in 1957, showing pasta strings draped over trees while women “picked” them, is Boese’s top April Fool. “Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree,” Boese writes on his website.

“A good April Fools’ hoax should be totally ridiculous, but genuinely fool a lot of people,” he tells us. “So, both absurd and believable. This is actually quite a hard trick to pull off, and the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest managed it perfectly.”

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