April Fool's Day
From Academic Kids
April Fool's Day or All Fools' Day, though not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible.
Traditionally, pranks are supposed to be performed before noon. Those done afterwards are supposed to bring bad luck to the perpetrator. This limitation is not, however, universally adhered to since it is believed to have been contrived by annoyed parents and school teachers wanting a respite from the day of pranks, as well as since many of the hoaxes listed below first appeared after noon. Anyone who fails to respond in the proper spirit of tolerance and amusement to the tricks played on them is also said to be liable to suffer bad luck. It is (unreliably) said that being fooled by a pretty girl will be compensated by marriage to, or at least friendship with her.
Another superstition is that marriage on April Fools' Day is not a good idea for a man, for he will be permanently ruled by his wife. It is furthermore believed that children born on this day will experience good luck in most matters, but will only meet with disaster when it comes to gambling.
The origin of April Fool's day is not entirely clear, but it is generally accepted to have stemmed from the changes in the calendar system  (http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/other/aprlfool.html). The New Year celebrations used to begin on 25 March and last for a week, hence ending on 1 April. In 1582, King Charles IX of France brought in the new Gregorian calendar, in which the new year began on 1 January. Unfortunately, some people did not hear of the change, and others simply refused to break the tradition. These people became the object of so-called 'fool's errands' and tests of gullibility.
The Internet makes it more difficult to know what time it was when a potential hoax was perpetrated. Time zones are different in different parts of the world; it is actually the first of April from 0000 -1200 1 April until 2359 +1400 1 April, a period of 49 hours. Those unfamiliar with the April Fool's Day custom may be vulnerable to Internet hoaxes.
Many media organizations have either unwittingly or deliberately propagated hoaxes on April Fools' Day. Even normally serious news media consider April Fools' Day hoaxes fair game, and spotting them has become an annual pastime. The advent of the Internet as a worldwide communications medium has also assisted the pranksters in their work.
- Cleveland Dinosaur Attack: a joke saying that dinosaurs attacked all over Cleveland, including the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and the Cavaliers Stadium.
- Kremvax: one of the early Internet April Fool's day hoaxes.
- San Serriffe: The Guardian printed a supplement featuring this fictional island (a reference to "sans-serif", a family of typefaces).
- FBI Crackdown: These crackdowns  (http://songzilla.blogspot.com/2005/04/confirmed-cassette-prosecutions-fbi.html) are rarely true, though entirely feasible.
- Smell-o-vision: The BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Despite the fact that no such capability existed, many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.
- Spaghetti trees: The BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. A lot of people wanted spaghetti trees of their own.
- Metric time: Repeated several times in various countries over the years, this hoax claims that the time system will be changed to some system where one subdivision is some power of 10 smaller than the next. The idea to metricise time was suggested in France after the French Revolution: see French Revolutionary Calendar.
- Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news once reported that the famous Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked and even mourning people contacted the television studio.
- Television licence: In another year the Dutch television news reported that the government had introduced a new way to detect hidden televisions (in many countries in Europe, one must pay a television licence to fund public broadcasting) by simply driving through the streets with a new detector, and that the only way to keep your television from being detected was to wrap it in aluminum foil. Within a few hours all aluminum foil was sold out throughout the country.
- Sidd Finch: George Plimpton wrote an article in Sports Illustrated about a New York Mets prospect who could throw a fastball at 176 mph (the fastest pitchers in baseball barely reach 100mph). This kid was known as "Barefoot" Sidd Finch. He reportedly learned to throw a ball that fast in a Buddhist monastery, and also threw a javelin a quarter of a mile at the British Olympic tryouts. Plimpton said the boy refused to go to the Olympics for fear of hurting someone. Barefoot Sidd was later the subject of a moderately successful book.
- Radio Station "Power 106": A Los Angeles radio station "announced" a change from pop to disco music at 7:00 AM, April 1, (1993?). After 12 hours they admitted it was a joke, and switched back to their standard playlist. Within minutes complaints rolled in of "where's the disco?", and the station actually changed formats the next day (and kept disco for a year or two).
- Radio Station KFOG (San Francisco, CA): Pretended to have been the victim of a corporate radio buyout, with a switch to a new format: just the best 15 seconds of every song! The entire morning show was formatted this way, with taped interruptions of various perky listeners gushing over the new format. (This hoax can also be considered a parody of several radio buyouts during the late 1990s media consolidations.)
- Australian Radio Station Triple J: On 1999-04-01, breakfast show co-host Adam Spencer said he had a journalist on the line from overseas where there had just been a secret 9 hour IOC meeting and that Sydney had lost the 2000 Olympic Games. New South Wales Premier Bob Carr was also in on the joke. The story was picked up by mainstream media (including Channel 9's Today Show) before Adam revealed the truth.
- Assassination of Bill Gates: many Chinese and South Korean websites claimed that CNN reported Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was assassinated.
- Write Only Memory, advertised for sale by Signetics in April of 1972; included in its IC databooks through the late 70s.
- Death of a Mayor: in 1998, local radio hosts Opie and Anthony reported that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident while in Florida. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending truth to the prank as he could not be reached. The rumor spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.
- Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy! Double Switch: In 1997, Pat Sajak, the host of Wheel of Fortune, traded hosting duties with Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek for one show. In addition to Sajak hosting Jeopardy!, he and cohost Vanna White appeared as contestants on the episode of Wheel that was being hosted by Trebek. White's position at the famed Wheel letterboard was filled by Sajak's wife Leslie.
- Comic strip switcheroo: For April Fool's Day 1997, the cartoonists who draw a number of popularly sydicated comic strips switched roles for a day, each finding someone else to draw their strip for April Fools'. In some cases, the artist drew his or her own characters in the other strip's milieu, while in others, he or her will draw his own strip, with visitors from another. While cartoonists have done this sort of "switcheroo" since 1997, especially in online comics, the biggest such example was on this single day in 1997.
- The Trouble with Tracy: In 2003, The Comedy Network in Canada announced that it would be producing and airing a remake of the 1970s Canadian sitcom The Trouble with Tracy, with Laurie Elliott in the role of Tracy (originally played by Diane Nylund). The original series is widely considered to be one of the worst sitcoms ever produced. Several media outlets fell for the hoax.
- Shuttle landing: A Vancouver radio station successfully tricked many listeners in believing that a space shuttle had to do an emergency landing at the Vancouver International Airport.
- Howard Stern's April 1st, 2004 show: The show started off with a message stating that due to increased pressure from the FCC, the Howard Stern show had been cancelled, and they played pop songs till after 7:00 am, when Stern came back on and said it was a joke. The pop music was a joke due to the fact that Stern's home station is 92.3 FM K-ROCK, which at the time was an alternative rock station.
- Taco Liberty Bell: On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it to "the Taco Liberty Bell." In a White House press conference, Mike McCurry was quoted as saying that the federal government would also be "selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Co. and renaming it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial." Thousands of people who did not immediately get the April Fool's Day hoax protested.
- In 1995, the National Television Station TVM in Malta announced the discovery of a new underground prehistoric temple. The discovery of a mummy eventually led to the announcement that it was an April's Fool joke. This was done during a TV programme conducted by John Demanuele.
- Another famous April's Fool Joke was carried out by newscaster Anna Bonanno, which announced that Malta would follow the European continent in changing its motoring rules and motor vehicles would start driving on the right. At the end of the news, it was announced that this was nothing but an April's Fool Joke.
- In 2005, one of the largest P2P web sites in China, VeryCD, announced that it had been closed due to some uncontrollable force.
- Alternative 3, a fictional documentary broadcast in the United Kingdom in 1977, was originally intended as an April Fool's Day hoax, but due to industrial action it was not broadcast until June. This [[expos靝 of international collusion to prepare for global catastrophe fooled many people, and is still the subject of conspiracy theories.
- On the first of April, 2004, suprnova.org announced that, owing to a huge surge in Japanese traffic, the site would slowly transition to Japanese, and discontinue its English-language version.
- In 2002, the Canadian news site bourque.org announced that Finance Minister Paul Martin had resigned. The Canadian dollar dropped to its lowest level in a month before Martin's office denied the story.
- In 2003, there was a rumor in Hong Kong that Hong Kong had become an infected area and would be quarantined because of SARS, all immigration ports would also be closed. The same rumor also mentions Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong at that time, had resigned. This caused a panic that Hong Kong people rushed into supermarkets to buy food. The Hong Kong government had to hold a press conference that officially denied the rumor. Later it was revealed that the rumor was spread by a student, by imitating the design of Ming Pao newspaper website, which was intended to be an April Fool's Day hoax, and the student was arrested for spreading false news.
- Ouija Board Comic. In April Fools 2005, FoxTrot, Pearls Before Swine, and Get Fuzzy pulled April Fools by having all three strips with the same Ouija Board gag. Basically, the Ouija board told the character to punch another next to him, all ending with afterlife being a peaceful place, and that he has pleased the god.
- The Godzilla forum war. Began two weeks before April Fools 2005 with the hacking of Tokyo Monsters (http://www.tokyomonsters.com) by MaserCity (http://www.masercity.com) and the shutdown of other Godzilla webpages such as Godzilla Stomp (http://www.gojistomp.org) and kaijuphile.com (http://www.kaijuphile.com). More details available here (http://www.gojistomp.org/errrors/aprilfools.htm).
- April 1st RFC
- Google's hoaxes
Lists of April Fool hoaxes
Other prank days in the world
The French prank day is also April 1. The tradition for the fr:Poisson d'avril (literally "April Fish") is for people to attempt to attach a paper fish to their chosen victim's back without them noticing.
In the Spanish speaking world, similar pranks are practiced on December 28, the Day of the Holy Innocents. This custom also exists in certain areas of Belgium, including the province of Antwerp (which is situated in Flanders). The tradition is that children lock out their parents or teachers, only letting them in again if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.
In Iran, people play jokes on each other on the 13th day of the new year (Norooz). This day is called "Sizdah bedar" (Out-door thirteen), and it is April 3 (13th of Farvardin in Persian Calendar). It is believed that people should go out on this date in order to escape the bad luck of number 13.
Quotes About April Fools' Day
- "April 1st: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four." — Mark Twain
Nuisance caused to third parties by April Fools Day
- One type of April Fools Day hoax is to leave a message telling someone to telephone Mr.C.Lion or Mr.L.E.Fant (or various others) at a number that turns out to be a zoo. That prank, repeated across many people, causes serious problems for zoos' telephone exchanges.
- There have been cases when a hoax in a newspaper caused many readers to send mail to a nonexistent address, causing problems to postal sorting offices.
- April Fool (double agent) is the codename for a spy and double agent who played a key role in the downfall of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
- San Serriffe is a fictional island nation created to honour April Fool's Day.
- The Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time (http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/)
- Snopes.com's Urban Legend website page on origins of April Fools' Day (http://www.snopes.com/holidays/april/aprlfool.htm)
- 1957: BBC fools the nation (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/1/newsid_2819000/2819261.stm)
- The Fools Day - Includes hoaxes, pranks, trivia, history, quotes, messages, funny party ideas and April Fool recipes. (http://www.thefoolsday.com/)
- Enjoying April Fools' Day online (http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3233583a11275,00.html)
- Several Years of April Fool's Stories (http://www.sharpened.net/april1.php)