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These foolish things

April 1 is one of the few designated days on the calendar when people of all ages are encouraged to act like children again. It’s no surprise then that countries far and wide are known to get in on the pranking action on April Fool’s Day.

While the origins of this hoax day are largely unknown, some suggest that All Fools' Day celebrations came about due to the turn of the seasons or stem from the adoption of a new calendar.

Ancient cultures, such as the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1.

Then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar, which called for New Year's Day to be celebrated January 1. Many people refused to accept the new date or did not learn about it and continued to celebrate in April.

To make fun of those traditionalists, people began to send them on "fools’ errands" or tried to trick them into believing something false. The practice later spread across Europe.

Today countries like Italy, France and Belgium honour the day by tacking paper fish on each other's backs as a trick, while shouting ‘April fish’ in their local language.

Other parts of the world are not left out of the tradition, with Iranians known to play jokes on each other on the 13th day of the Persian new year, which falls on April 1 or April 2.

Celebrated as far back as 536BC, it’s one of the oldest prank-traditions in the world — some speculate the origin of April Fool’s Day might have in fact stemmed from this Middle Eastern event.

In countries like the United States and Britain, even the media is known to get in on the action.

A 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated once printed a story about a talented rookie baseball pitcher who could throw the ball at 168mph — nearly 65mph faster than the previous record.

Magazine readers wrote in with great enthusiasm about the young pitcher — who had reportedly mastered the game in a Tibetan monastery. In reality he was a figment of author George Plimpton’s imagination.

The subtitle of the article read: ‘He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd's deciding about yoga — and his future in baseball.’

Take the first letter of each of these words and it spells ‘Happy April Fool’s Day — Ah Fib’.

This year local businesses in the US will also be getting in on the action, with two ice cream parlours expected to serve up some weird and unusual flavours in honour of the occasion.

One parlour in Texas will make an ice cream called ‘Let’s Go to the Movies’ homemade vanilla ice cream blended with popcorn, nachos, Junior Mints and Sweet Tarts.

Last year the branch created something called ‘Burrrr … ito’, which featured a flavoured mix of refried beans, salsa, black beans, chilli powder, tortillas, cheese, corn, onions, cherry tomatoes and sour cream.

Another parlour, Tom Wahl’s in New York, will make ‘Pulled Pork’ ice cream.

For more information on some of the top hoaxes played in places around the world, visit www.museumofhoaxes.com.

Classic spoofs

Three things you can do to get in on the April Fool’s Day action:

1. Put a small drop of blue food colouring in the centre of a toothbrush. Make sure to use the same colour as the bristles, so the user doesn’t see it before brushing their teeth.

2. Put tape on the light switch, so the children can't turn the light on.

3. Fill up a bowl with cereal the night before, add some milk and place it in the freezer over night. The next morning, take the cereal out before the children come downstairs and make sure they see you pour a bit of milk on top. They will be surprised to see their breakfast isn’t actually palatable.

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Published April 01, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 01, 2013 at 9:52 am)

These foolish things

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