It would seem that the tradition of April Fool’s Day at least dates back to England in the 1700 when teenagers started playing practical jokes on one another and then anyone else they thought they could get away with terrorizing.
Another theory says that this day of foolishness dates back to France in 1582 and surrounds changing from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar as mandated by the Council of Trent in 1563. Some people failed to recognize January 1 as New Year’s Day. On the old Julian Calendar, the new year celebration was the last week of March, culminating on April 1st. These “fools” were the recipients of all kinds of jokes and pranks including placing paper fish on their backs and calling them April fish. It symbolized a young fish, easy to hook and pointed to the idea of a gullible person.
April Fools’ Day traditions grew in England during the 1700s. In Scotland, there was too much fun and foolishness for just one day. The tradition became a two-day event where people were sent on phony errands the first day and then sneaking feathers or “kick me” signs on people’s rear ends.
Before my ministry days, I was a programmer/analyst with the FDIC. I walked into my office one day. I turned on the light followed by the radio as I always did. I had the radio tuned to my favorite country station or at least I thought I did when I left the night before. What was coming from the speakers was classical music. Occasionally, after I left for the day, a co-worker across the hall would come in and turn my radio until time for her to leave an hour or so after I left (we were on a flex work schedule). Since she hadn’t come in yet I couldn’t ask so I went over to change the station. Just as I reached for the dial the DJ came on and said, saying the time and my favorite station’s call letters. What?
I hadn’t even thought about the date. It was April 1st, 1990. I started looking around for one of the other country stations. I had no idea what was going on but when I found that one, they were playing the Rolling Stones and Deep Purple. I’m not saying anything bad about hard rock or classical but when you are expecting country… I dialed up the local Christian station and they were playing classical. It seemed that every FM radio station in Houston had overnight changed there format and the whole time I was oblivious to the date or at least if I had realized April 1st, I didn’t put two and two together. I am going to blame it on the fact that I am not a morning person and it was still way too early. My brain wasn’t awake until 10:00. At about 9:00 when the morning drive-time shows wound up the stations all shouted “April Fool’s” and switched back to their original formats for the next show. I admit it, I was pranked big time. I was gullible. It was also the best April Fool’s prank I have ever seen.
A few years ago a picture of the football field from my Alma Mater, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas was floating around the internet. I didn’t fall for this one but I would still rank it as one of my favorites. It appeared perfectly normal except the green field turf was orange and the orange end zones were now blue (orange, blue, and white are the school’s colors). It wasn’t like it was unreasonable colors like purple and white (arch rival Stephen F. Austin’s colors). Though I knew it was an April Fool’s prank, I loved the orange field. I knew (or so I thought) it was unique and no other school would have a field like it.
Someone with a whole lot better photo shop skills than mine, had spent a while, doing the painstaking task of digitally changing the green field to orange and the orange end zones to blue.
history.com has a page (click the history.com link) of the nine most outrageous April Fool pranks in history. Interesting though, the prank may actually be on HISTORY as this particular prank was not on April 1st. Instead it was January 1st at the 1961 Rose Bowl between the Washington Huskies and the Minnesota Golden Gophers though neither school had any intentional part to play in the prank which was actually done by Cal Tech, who had nothing to do with the game except the prank. Cal Tech is well known for the pranks they pull.
The Washington cheerleaders handed out colored cards to the Washington fans telling them that if they held the cards up at halftime while the Washington band played, it would spell “Huskies.” It didn’t. A group of Cal Tech students switched out the cards. When the cards spelled “Cal Tech” instead. The Washington band stopped mid-song.
While not an April Fool’s prank, I do find pretty funny. I must admit, I have enjoyed many pranks and have pulled a few and had a few pulled on me. As long as they are done well and where no one gets hurt, I find them funny. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I do.
The Church, in Christian tradition has such a day. The Sunday after Easter in tradition is called, “Holy Humor Sunday.” Many congregations still celebrate the day under a variety of names including Holy Humor Sunday. It usually does not fall on April 1st, it could happen. People would and do dress in the brightest clothes they own. Decorations are done in bright colors as well. People tell jokes. It creates a light and festive mood. It is all a part of continuing the Easter celebration and in honor of God playing the biggest practical joke on Satan in history, not letting Jesus stay in the grave.
Somehow, just as April Fool’s Day will not carry the same fun this year as it has in the past, I think we will miss out on the fun of “Holy Humor Sunday.” I am going to give it some thought. I know a little humor is something we could all use about now.
Think funny and if you have a good April Fool’s story (where no one got hurt), please share it in the comments below.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Seeking the genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved