Happy Hunt the Gowk Day!

Or if you aren’t Scottish, happy April Fool’s Day! April 1st has just passed, and we hope many of you spotted our not-so-subtle fake class about ocelot training. We apologise to anyone who had been hoping for years that we would do a class about ocelots, only to have their hopes dashed when they read the description.

It’s hard to pin down the exact origins of April Fool’s Day, given people are likely to be lying through their teeth when they explain their idea to you. One common theory says it arose when France changed to the Gregorian calendar, moving the beginning of the year from the end of March to the start of January. People who were still celebrating New’s Year when April came around were dubbed April Fools. While it is unlikely that this is the real origin, it was famously parodied in a classic episode of the Simpsons (that was broadcast on April 1st).

Whatever its origins, April Fool’s Day has inspired some very funny (and some not-so-funny) jokes over time.

Great Pranks from the Past

In 1977 The Guardian Newspaper published a supplement commemorating the tenth anniversary of independence of the nation of San Seriffe. It included a map showing the two main islands “Upper Caisse” and “Lower Caisse”, the main cities and towns such as Perpetua, Bodoni, Garamondo, and of course the beautiful long stretches of beach known as the Gill Sands. You can see the full supplement here at the Museum of Hoaxes.

The newspaper recieved multiple complaints from airlines and travel agents as people had been ringing up to enquire about holidaying in San Seriffe, apparently refusing to believe it was a joke.

A prank that felt more like a piece of public art was revealed in 2001 in Copenhagen:

Subway train

One of the most famous jokes, and possibly the first to be staged on television, was the the segment on BBC’s Panorama about the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest in 1957. To answer the hundreds of calls from people who wanted to know how to grow their own spaghetti bush they were told to “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best”.

A Sampling of 2014

Here are some of the highlights from April Fools day 2014.

And to finish…

… we have my personal favourite, again from the BBC in 2008. I don’t want to spoil this one at all, so just sit back and enjoy 🙂

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dfWzp7rYR4[/youtube]


The jester hat image above is borrowed and edited, with thanks, from Ed Schipul under a Creative Commons Licence.