As you are undoubtedly aware, today is Easter.
Okay, so it isn’t. We know you know, but it was worth a shot. Today is, in fact, April Fools’ Day, and if no one has caught you off-guard with a prank or joke yet today, then we apologize for breaking your streak. At least we didn’t put cellophane over your toilet or something, right? RIGHT?
April Fools’ Day is a long-held tradition that is an official holiday in exactly zero countries. Perhaps this is a testament to the enduring whimsicality and fun of a day in which you can play terrible jokes on others with no consequence?
In any case, though the origins and original purpose of the holiday are debated and hard to prove, it March-es on (HaHA! Get it? March-April?? I’ll show myself out.) Many people, companies, news providers, and governments get in on the fun by concocting wild stories that are JUST believable enough. This brings much mirth, hilarity, and reinforces the paranoia of those of us who have a hard time trusting others in the first place.
To further your understanding of this worldwide day of pranking, we’ve singled out three countries where April Fools Day is observed in very particular fashion. No free-styling here, if you want to fool your neighbors there is a certain way to do so.
Scotland – Hunt the Gowk
“Gowk” is the traditional word for a “fool” and the Scottish trick takes a village to pull off. The chosen “gowk” is handed a sealed message to deliver to a certain individual. Upon delivery the recipient will read the following message: “Do not laugh, do not smile, hunt the gowk another mile.” To continue the prank they then rewrite the same message and send the fool off to deliver it to someone else. This can last literally all day if the fool doesn’t catch on, but in general people will let the joke peter out around noon.
France – Poissons d’Avril
It doesn’t get much more harmless than the French version of April Fools’, known as “April Fish.” Over the course of the day people try to attach handmade paper fish to the back of their designated victim. That’s it. No “kick me” sign, no gut punch, just a cute little paper fish stuck to the back of your sweater. Granted this takes some preparation and sleight of hand to pull off, but in general, it’s an easy, cute way to celebrate the day.
Portugal – Bring an Umbrella
The Portuguese celebration of April Fools’ Day doesn’t always fall on April 1st because the timing is designated by the church calendar. On the Sunday-Monday before Lent the Portuguese pull out the stops to prank each other….with flour bombs. Yep, the extent of the joke is seeing your chosen target covered in flour, hilarious! Though the meaning behind the flour shower has been lost to obscurity, the prank-period lasts for a solid two days. Those who’d rather not look like a ghost/baker/fur-wearer, it’s probably a good idea to isolate yourself inside until Tuesday.
So in the grand scheme of things, April Fools’ Day in your home country, though perilous, may not be the actual worst. However, that depends on if you believe the truthfulness of what we’ve written in this article. What do you think? Elaborate joke or timely blog post?