The holiday for pranksters has been celebrated for centuries by many different cultures, but its origins are a bit of a mystery. Some historians think it may have dated all the way back to the 1500s when France moved from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar began each new year around April 1, so people who were slow to receive the news that it moved to January 1 were essentially deemed the butt of jokes, nicknamed “April fools”.
April Fools’ Day spread through Britain during the 18th century. The tradition turned into a two-day event in Scotland where people were sent on false errands for cuckoo birds. In France, the fool is called the poisson d’avril, or “April fish”. It is common for school-aged children in the country to pin a paper ish to the backs of their unsuspecting friends referring to a young fish who is easily caught.
Elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes on larger scales date closer to the 1900s, where newspapers, radio and tv stations would participate in reporting outrageous false claims that typically fool their audiences. Clothing companies have been known to advertise false clothing items such as “spray-on jeans” or adult-sized baby clothing.
Here are a few prank ideas for April Fools’ Day that aren’t TOO messy or harmful:
- Tape a silly picture to the bottom of a coworker’s mouse so that it won’t work. When they turn it over, they’ll see that there’s no need to contact IT.
- Mix candies in a bowl that look similar, such as Skittles and M&Ms. It won’t be the best tasting combo, but isn’t enough to make anyone sick.
- Send an envelope full of glitter in the mail. Okay, this one may not be as enjoyable for most and requires clean-up, but it’s still funny! Add an April Fools’ card so they know it’s not just some sort of revenge.
- Buy a bunch of googly eyes and add them to items in the fridge. When someone opens it up, they’ll find an apple staring back at them.
- Get a pack of cream-filled cookies and replace the cream with toothpaste. This one is especially funny for kids who can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar.