“The gowk and the titlene sit on a tree…you’re a gowk as well as me!”
That’s what children sing while playing “Hunting the Gowk” in Scotland on April Fool’s Day which falls on the 1st day of April. “Gowk” is Scottish for “cuckoo” or “fool”. So now there’s a day to practice jokes and general foolishness! How did that day come out? Keep reading to learn more about April Fool’s Day facts and secrets.
1. Late Christmas
No one really knows how April Fool’s Day started, but the most popular theory takes us to 16th century France. France used to celebrate the New Year for 8 days beginning on March the 25th till the 1st of April. That was before King Charles IX made his proclamation of Paris in January 1563.
The King of France wanted to adapt the celebrations of the Gregorian calendar which started the 8-day celebrations from the 25th of December till the 1st of January, just like the current time. The royal edict was publicized in Roussillon on the 9th of August 1564 and is known as the “Edict of Roussillon”.
Back in those times, people didn’t have phones, the Internet, or social media to know about the new calendar. So those who didn’t know about the change continued to celebrate the New Year in April and those who knew about the change started to mock the “ignorant fools”.
This kind of mocking evolved into a tradition of pranking people on the first day of April and spread to other countries.
2- “April’s Fish!”
In modern-day France, children use paper fish to play an April Fool’s trick. Children stick a paper fish onto the back of people, then they run away yelling “Poisson d’Avril !” Which means April’s Fish!
Yes, keep an eye on your back if you happen to be in France on that day!
The French media is taking part in April Fool’s day by broadcasting a fake story along with true ones. Even the true stories may sound a little unbelievable so it’s hard to figure out the fake story. People love this common practice and start to guess which story is undeniably fake. The media reveals what is true and false the next day.
The most highlighted fake April Fool’s news in France was in 1986, when “Le Parisien” published the disturbing news of moving the Eiffel Tower to Marne-la-Vallée, the site of Disneyland in Paris.
In 2020, during the covid-19 lockdown, officers in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in the French Riviera tweeted about How Mother Nature was taking back its rights while people were staying home by encountering giraffes in the streets of their city.
3. The Wise Fools of Gotham
The British folklore takes April Fool’s Day to the 13th century in a small town called Gotham in Nottinghamshire. A legend claims that King John decided to conquer some of the lands of Gotham to build a hunting lodge. The townsfolk weren’t okay with that. So, they decided on a cunning plan to stop the king.
They decided to “play the fool”; the whole town started acting like lunatics, so when the king’s men arrived in the town, they found the residents doing all kinds of crazy things; they even were trying to drown fish!
This was enough for the king’s men to counsel the king to build the lodge somewhere else as Gotham was obviously full of madmen. Ever since that legend; April Fool’s Day has maintained its trickery.
4. “Spaghetti Trees”
On the current British April Fool’s Day, all pranks are supposed to stop at noon sharp, with anyone playing a joke after midday then considered the “April Fool”. The British media has its fair share of April Fool’s day; in 1957 the BBC program “Panorama” showed Swiss farmers picking spaghetti from spaghetti trees. The BBC received so many inquiries from viewers asking where they could buy a spaghetti plant!
5. Hunt the Gowk, the Scottish Way
In Scotland, April Fool’s Day is a two-day event also known as “April Gowk”, “Gowkie Day” or “Hunt the Gowk.” It involved sending a crowd on phony tasks, often carrying a message that says: “Dinna laugh, dinna smile, Hunt the gowk another mile”. The second day of the Scottish April Fool’s custom is devoted bizarrely to pranks involving attaching pretend tails or “kick me” notes. This is known as “Taily Day”.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Globitopia ride through the history of April Fool’s day, you might be wondering if all of this information is accurate since it’s about April Fool’s day after all…….. Well, it’s accurate! We would never do such thing to you………
OR WOULD WE!! 😈