Happy April Fools Day!

April Fools’ Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures; its exact origins remain a mystery.

April 1 is a great day to be kayaking on Lake Ray Hubbard!
(Disclaimer: Yes, the shark is Photoshopped)

Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. Pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

April Fools Around the World

In 1962, Swedish national television broadcast a 5-minute special on how one could get color TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomenon was included. Thousands of people tried it.

In 1969, the public broadcaster NTS in the Netherlands announced that inspectors with remote scanners would drive the streets to detect people who had not paid their radio/TV tax. The only way to prevent detection was to wrap the TV/radio in aluminum foil. The next day all supermarkets were sold out of their aluminum foil, and a surge of TV/radio taxes were being paid.

In France the “fishy fête” called Poisson D’Avril (April’s Fish) is celebrated by trying to tape fish cutouts onto the backs of your friends.