10 Interesting facts about April Fools’ Day
1. The earliest recorded reference to April Fools’ Day was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1392.
2. Although historians believe April Fools’ began in France, no one is entirely certain. One belief is that it began with a calendar change in the 16th century when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the Gregorian calendar, and New Year’s Day was moved from April 1 to January 1.
3. The ancient Romans had a day of jokes called Festival of Hilaria (a.k.a. Roman Laughing Day). In ancient Rome, the festival of Hilaria was held to celebrate the vernal equinox and honor the Anatolian Earth Goddess.
4. As an April Fools’ Day prank in 1998, Burger King published a full-page advertisement in USA TODAY introducing the newest menu item: a “Left-Handed Whopper.”
5. On 1 April 1976, BBC radio astronomer Patrick Moore stated to radio listeners that an astronomical event (the conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto) would take place at 9:47 a.m. that day, which would noticeably decrease gravity on Earth. If listeners were to jump into the air at that exact moment, they would find they felt a floating sensation.
6. Twenty years earlier, the BBC fooled the nation with a spoof documentary broadcast about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The documentary “featured a family in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest…carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry.” Apparently, millions were duped–calling in to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees.
7. Funnily enough, because of their chronic hoaxes through the years, when Google actually launched its Gmail service on April 1, 2004, everyone assumed it was another joke. Of course, that was the plan because Google knew it would offer additional free publicity when everyone realized the service was real.
8. Google outdoes itself each year with April Fools’ jokes. In 2013, they introduced the Google Wallet Mobile ATM which advertised that it could attach to most smartphones and “dispense money instantly and effortlessly”, including rare $2 and $50 bills. No more searching for an ATM or bank! “If your mobile ATM is running low on funds, a self-driving, armored, hybrid vehicle will be alerted and dispatched to your location–arriving within minutes to quickly and safely refill [your] ATM.”
9. Even Mark Twain had something to say about April Fools’ Day: “This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1894)
10. Twitter jumped in on the April Fools’ Day bandwagon in 2013 to announce that they were shifting to a two-tiered service. Those who wanted to use their services for free could use Twttr, where they could tweet ONLY consonants. Those who paid $5/monthly could use consonants AND vowels.