April Fools Day

Think about how much difficulty we’ve had switching from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time.  Then think how you would react if you were asked to change the beginning of the new year from the Vernal (Spring) Equinox to the Winter Solstice. That’s exactly what happened in 1582 when France and most of Europe switched from the Julian calendar, when the year began around April 1st, to the Gregorian calendar, when the year began around January 1. 

People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” 

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and websites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences.  These have ranged from photos of farmers harvesting spaghetti from trees to Burger King advertising a “Left Handed Whopper.”  Google notoriously hosts an annual April Fools’ Day prank that has included everything from “telepathic search” to the ability to play Pac Man on Google Maps.

 


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