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November 30, 2023

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What day is today?

If anyone reading this column just answered Friday or April 1, you need to get in tune with some American customs. Today is April Fools Day! The nationally renowned day where Americans go hog wild tricking friends and family. If you are not among the countless Americans who participate in April Fools, do not feel bad. I really am not one to play tricks either: In fact, I am usually the trickee instead of the tricker.

As I was thinking of the idea for this column a few days ago, I got the urge to find out how April Fools Day started. I know the origins of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, The Fourth of July, Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Although April Fools Day is by no means a holiday, nor should it ever be one, Americans from east to west and north to south take part.

I kind of think April Fools Day and Valentines Day are similar. The latter seems to exist so that couples can honor their precious relationships for 24 hours, and single people like me can wallow in our disparity for 24 hours. April Fools Day seems to exist so that suave folks can get their kicks for 24 hours, and laid back people like me can run the risk of being humiliated over a 24 hour time span. It turns out I actually found some information to prove me wrong.

According to James Ferrell’s commentary “April Fool’s Day,” in The Clergy Journal, April Fool’s Day began in France around 1582. That year, New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 to January 1, so Ferrell theorized the fools may have been those who could not adjust to the change. That is interesting, as I never would have connected January 1 to April 1, and New Year’s Day to April Fools Day.

Ferrell also stated that in history and literature, the fool had to play the role of the truthteller. The fool was usually a clown who entertained people with jokes. Sometimes the fool was just funny, while other times the fool used humor to prove how common customs were ridiculous.

I feel better now that I know the “fools” are the ones playing jokes. All these years I honestly thought they were talking about gullible people like me when using the word “fool.”

Researching April Fools Day yields some noteworthy results. has their own list of the 100 best April Fools pranks ever.

Among them is the 1998 case where Burger King published a fool page advertisement in USA Today for their “Left-Handed Whopper,” specially designed with all the condiments of the regular whopper aligned on the left side for southpaws. The next day they reported the whole thing was a hoax, though thousands of customers had requested the sandwich and many more wanted “Right-Handed Whoppers.”

In 1976, British astronomer Patrick Moore told BBC Radio 2 that at 9:47 a.m. a once in a lifetime event would take place, and Pluto would temporarily pass behind Jupiter and cause a gravitational alignment that would lessen gravity. At 9:47 a.m. BBC Radio 2 received hundreds of phone calls from people claiming they felt the sensation, and one woman even claimed she and eleven friends had risen from chairs and floated around the room. Imagine how intelligent they felt when they found out Moore’s statement was a farce.

Some of you may remember the 1998 Grammy Awards in which a shirtless man wandered on stage in the middle of Bob Dylan’s performance with the words “soy bomb” scrawled across his chest. For those who do not recall, this was an intoxicated looking man who definitely was not part of Dylan’s performance. Well, on April 1, 1998 Rhino Records announced they had signed “Soy Bomb” to a two-year six album contract, with his first album containing versions of “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Dancing Machine.” A spokesman said they had signed him because the experience of watching him dance had been “kind of like when you eat too many Whoppers and you feel a little nauseous, but you’re so happy you ate them.”

Wow, just reading those three examples makes me feel better. Who really believes a sandwich can be right-handed or left-handed, or makes up stories about how they rose from a chair and floated around a room? And who would mistrust a professional record company to sign a mysterious lunatic who staggered onto the Grammy’s stage to get his five minutes of fame?

I wonder if people looked at the calendar before they heard these tricks. Even I am seasoned enough to prepare ahead of time for April Fools jokes.

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