This Saturday is April Fools Day, a silly holiday for playing tricks and gags on friends and family for most of us. Sometimes, even the media gets in on the game, by reporting fictitious stories or playing jokes on colleagues during TV newscasts.
April Fools Day is recognized almost everywhere in the world, despite not being an actual holiday. Though its exact origins are unknown, the first written record is noted in The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer in the late 1300’s. Other accounts relate back to the changing of the Julian calendar to the modern Gregorian, when New Year’s Day was moved from April 1 to January 1. Still others believe that the changing of seasons from winter to spring brings about a lightheartedness that lends to pranking around this time of year. However you look at it, the first day of April has been a notorious day for pranksters for hundreds of years.
Some common pranks throughout history are the sending of a “fool” on ridiculous errands to look for things that don’t exist, or sending them with a message to another, who then sends them to a third person, and so on. The popular prank of sticking a “kick me” sign on someone’s back came about from the French tradition of schoolchildren placing pictures of a fish on a friend’s back and calling out “April Fish” representing an easily caught fish or gullible person.
Notable pranks by large companies last year include movie vendor Redbox advertising a job for “Kiosk Ambassadors” for someone to sit inside their kiosks and dole out DVDs, Quilted Northern making “rustic” organic toilet paper (ouch!), and Alamo Car Rental offering wood-paneled station wagons for rent as restored antique vehicles.
Can’t wait to see what corporate America has in store for us this year!