Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
12:01 AM 1st April 2021

April Fools' Day 2021

April Fools' Day is classed as one of the most light-hearted days in the calendar year. It has been celebrated by different cultures for several centuries, but its exact origin remains a mystery.

The day really isn’t funny for the person who gets fooled and also it encourages people to tell lies.

History of April Fools' Day

Some historians think it is related to the change in the seasons while others think it is to do with the change in the calendar, dating back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

People who were slow to get the news that the new year had moved to 1 January and continued to celebrate at the end of March into April were the butt of jokes and hoaxes.

April Fools' Day has also been linked to ancient Roman festivals which involved people dressing up in disguises.

Another speculation is that 1 April is connected to the first day of spring when Mother Nature fooled people with unpredictable weather.

The first recording of April foolishness was recorded in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The book was written in 1392 and associated 1 April with foolishness.

What is it?

April Fools' Day (or All Fools' Day) is not a public holiday but is observed throughout the Western world and has been a popular tradition since the 19th century.

It is a day for people to play harmless jokes or pranks on their friends and colleagues by getting them to look for things that don't exist, sending someone on a 'fool's errand' or trying to get them to believe ridiculous things and then shout 'April Fool'.

But beware as if the joke is after midday then the person playing the joke becomes the 'April Fool'.

Fake stories:

Fake stories are often published in the media and are usually explained in the small print or reported the following day.

Some memorable fake stories:

1957 - the BBC broadcast a film on Panorama showing Swiss farmers harvesting freshly grown spaghetti from trees. The BBC was inundated with viewers wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti plant.

1965 - the BBC TV showed an interview with a professor who claimed that people could smell the things shown on TV. The technology was called 'smell-o-vision'. Coffee beans and onions were shown to people who were asked to report if they smelled the items. Some people fell for it and even said the onions made their eyes water.

1976 - the BBC announced that on that day the gravity of earth would be reduced by a certain level and whoever jumped in the air would lightly float in the air! People who hadn’t noticed the date might have jumped to realize that mother earth cannot lose its attraction and that’s where BBC’s mission might have been accomplished.

1998 - Burger King introduced a left handed Whopper with all the condiments swirled on the burger anti-clockwise. It was so popular that people were trying to order them in store.

2005 - the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 announced in the news that the long-running serial The Archers had changed its theme tune to an upbeat disco style.

2008 - the BBC caught viewers out by running a video clip of flying penguins, claiming the birds were flying to tropical rainforests in South America to escape the harsh Antarctic weather.

2017 - Coffee-Mate introduced a coffee flavour so your favourite coffee could taste more like coffee!

2017 - Burger King in France tried to sell a flame-grilled Whopper flavour toothpaste to keep your mouth Whopper fresh all day

2019 - a Florida Aquarium unveiled an attraction called Moon Bay. The 2,000 gallon tank contained translucent moon jellies, a type of jellyfish which visitors could touch. Apparently they were instructed in the safe and correct place to touch them. Moon jellies are technically a form of gelatinous zooplankton and not fish at all.

Google is well known for the annual April Fools' jokes, which they have done in 2000, 2002, and every year since 2004.

Apparently in 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, they decided it was not the time for jokes and in 2021 they have cancelled the jokes for a second year in a row.

Some famous people born on 1 April

1578: William Harvey, English physician and academic (d. 1657)
1815: Otto von Bismarck, German lawyer and politician (d. 1898)
1883: Lon Chaney, American actor, director and screenwriter (d. 1930)
1920: Toshiro Mifune, Chinese-Japanese actor and producer (d. 1997)
1929: Milan Kundera, Czech-French author, poet and playwright
1932: Debbie Reynolds, American actress, singer and dancer
1939: Rudolph Isley, American singer-songwriter (The Isley Brothers)
1939: Ali MacGraw, American actress
1942: Annie Nightingale, English radio host
1946: Ronnie Lane, English bass player, songwriter and producer (d. 1997)
1946: Arrigo Sacchi, Italian footballer, coach and manager
1948: Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican singer and actor
1949: Gil Scott-Heron, American singer-songwriter and author (d. 2011)
1953: Barry Sonnenfeld, American director and producer
1957: David Gower, English cricketer and sportscaster
1961: Susan Boyle, Scottish singer
1962: Phillip Schofield, English television host
1966: Chris Evans, English radio and television host
1969: Dean Windass, English footballer and manager
1971: Method Man, American rapper, producer and actor (Wu-Tang Clan)
1976: Clarence Seedorf, Dutch-Brazilian footballer and manager
1980: Bijou Phillips, American actress
1985: Beth Tweddle, English gymnast
1986: Kid Ink, American rapper
1994: Ella Eyre, English singer-songwriter

April Fools' Day Recipe

Gooseberry and elderflower fool - Photo by Ewan Munro
Gooseberry and elderflower fool - Photo by Ewan Munro
A fool is an English dessert.

Traditionally, fruit fool is made by folding stewed fruit (normally gooseberries) into sweet custard.

Modern fool recipes often skip the traditional custard and use whipped cream.

Once again in 2021 April Fools' Day will be quite different and perhaps quite intense as most of us are still staying home, working from home or just starting to come out of shielding because of the lockdown. At least we have had a few days of good weather to be able to enjoy the slightly relaxed meeting of 6 people or 2 households outside, even in gardens.

In this unprecedented time, we certainly don’t want any April Fools' jokes or fake news about the coronavirus pandemic.

So be warned and on your guard for you don’t want to become an ‘April Fool’