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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 03.29.07
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The facts you need on April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day

From Wikedpedia, the free encyclopedia that is most certainly almost always true

Note: This article may require cleanup to meet Wikedpedia's quality standards for grime, dust mites, and smeared wasabi paste.
Not,e too: This article is a stub, which isn't a very polite thing to say, but there you are
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April Fool's Day is an unofficial holiday recognized mainly in western cultures in celebration of pranksterism, mischievousness, and cheap laughs at others' expense. Celebrants play tricks on one another throughout the day until it invariably ends in tears.

History

April Fool's Day is believed to have originated in Rome in 56 AD when Emperor Vivesectus marked the twelfth birthday of his son Egregious, whom he was not particularly fond of. When Egregious's young friends had gathered for the party, thinking the theme was "Philosophers and Indians," Vivesectus feigned a fit of rage and threw all the birthday-goers into the coliseum. They stood trembling in the ring, listening to the roar of the lions that would soon be released to devour them. Vivesectus motioned for the gates to open, and out walked a dozen pussycats. Oh, how they laughed!

Over time, April Fool's Day pranks evolved away from psychological terror and more towards general humiliation. Pranks and jokes have not always been well received.

In 1062, Brother Shecky of Buttonmead startled his fellow friars by declaring, "Lookest thou out yon window! 'Tis Christ our Lord and Saviour!" When they rushed to see, he laughed, "Thou art all Fools who can be found on this First Day of April!" For his heresy, he was sentenced to death by banana peel.

April Fool's Day only really gained acceptance during the time of Pope Pius II who on April 1, 1461 told the world's first "Knock Knock" joke:
"Gnock Gnock."
"Who goeth there?"
"Pius."
"Of which Pius do you speak?"
"Pius my favourite dessert."

The first whoopee cushion was employed in Paris on April 1, 1838 by photography pioneer Louis Daguerre. Constructed from a sheep's bladder, it was used to coax a smile out of portrait client, the Vicomtess de Flambée. Daguerre called the device "le sac flatulente."

In 1878, U.S. President Rutherford Hayes officially recognized April Fool's Day as a holiday in order to distract the public from the then-raging Polecat Scandal. A year later he unrecognized it.

Canada's first recorded April Fool's prank occurred on April 1, 1885 at the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. As financier Donald Smith prepared to hammer in the Last Spike, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald slipped a rubber spike in its place. As he later wrote in his diary, the impact of the rebounding hammer knocked Smith "arse over tea-kettle." He was so incensed that it took him until November of that year to accept Macdonald's apology and reconvene for the ceremony.

There have been many famous April Fool's hoaxes perpetrated by the media. Initially, some of these caused widespread consternation among a gullible public. Today, however, their impact has been blunted by the sheer number generated annually by television, radio, websites and implausibly handsome newspaper columnists.

Traditions

In French cultures, April Fool's Day is known as Poisson d'avril, which means "April fish." Pranksters sneak up behind their victims and slip herrings down their trousers. For even bigger laughs, they use electric eels.

In Scotland, pranksters shout "MacTavish in the cistern!" No one knows why.

People in Norway celebrate April 1 by sneaking into neighbours' houses and stealing their credit cards.

Children in Paraguay wake up to find flapjacks under their pillows.

Trivia

The manufacture, sale and maintenance of joy buzzers is a $16 billion industry.
April 1 has a higher rate of schoolteacher absenteeism than any other day of the year.
There are on average 63 April Fool's-related deaths annually.
Republicans do not celebrate April Fool's Day.

Quotations about April Fool's Day

"Ouch."
"That's not funny."

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