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April Fools’ Day Traditions Around The World

“April Fool, go to school,
Tell your teacher you’re a fool!
If your teacher beats you,
Carry your bag and run away!”

First things first: we regret to inform you that this will be the last Arts and Culture feature in Guardian Life. It has to be done. And we hope you will find more fun on this All Fools’ Day to dull the pain you may feel.

That said, it has become a tradition on the first of April to pull harmless jokes and pranks on people near and dear to us to celebrate April Fools’ Day. How the custom of pranking on April 1st came about remains a mystery, but it is one day that people can be unashamedly silly.

A theory has it that April Fools’ Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year’s Day, which was previously celebrated on the 1st of April, were teased as “April fools”.

Indian woman dancing in Holi festival in India. Photo credit: andBeyond

Superstition has it that anyone who fails to respond to the tricks played on them with good humour will attract bad luck. On the flip side, some believe that April Fools’ can be good for one’s health because it encourages jokes and pranks and brings all the benefits of laughter.

Although April Fools’ Day is a global phenomenon, here is how the day is celebrated in different countries:

Brazil

On the “Dia da Mentira” or “day of the lie”, news outlets put out ridiculous headlines with false claims and many individuals tell white lies to fool their friends.

France

Schoolchildren sneakily stick a picture of a fish on the back of an unsuspecting classmate. When the hapless victim discovers the prank, the successful prankster will yell out “Poisson d’Avril” (meaning “April fish”).

Germany

In Germany, pranks (called “Aprilscherz“) are played on family members, co-workers and friends; the media publishes harmless, made up stories. To reveal the joke, Germans say April, April.

Greece

In Greece on Protos Aprilis, everyone tells innocent lies to trick “victims”. Successful pranksters, unlike fools, will have a fortunate year and the water from rainfall on April 1st is believed to have healing abilities.

India

India’s Holi festival, celebrated on March 31, is a day to play jokes, toss coloured dust and wear face and body paint. On April 1st, young people play silly pranks like making fake calls to friends.

April fish. Photo_ French Moments

Ireland

The jokes and pranks on April Fools’ Day are expected to end at noon, after which pranksters will be thought of as foolish. Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, and drivers may drive on the wrong side of the road.

Portugal

Instead of April 1st, April Fools’ Day is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before Lent by throwing flour on people.

Sweden

On första April (April 1st) in Sweden, people attempt to trick others, as expected. Unsuccessful tricksters run away after shouting “April, April, din dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill!” (meaning “April, April, you stupid herring, I can trick you wherever I want!”)

In other news, if you believed the information in the first paragraph, you’ve been fooled.

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