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    Are You A Fool For April Fools’ Day?

    Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    Are you someone who loves a good joke? Do you love planning an epic prank and delight in seeing it go off perfectly? Do you get a good laugh from a successful prank, whether you are the prankster, the one being pranked, or simply a bystander? If so, you probably look forward to April Fools’ Day all year. But have you ever taken a moment from your April shenanigans to think about how this tradition started or when? Have you asked yourself what were some of the biggest April Fools’ Day pranks ever pulled? Are you asking those questions now? Well, you’re in luck, because we have assembled a quick guide to April Fools’ Day, as well as a caution for something much less fun that could be planning on ruining your spring. Keep reading to find out more!

    What Are The Origins of April Fools’ Day?

    What would you think if I were to tell you that April Fools’ Day originated 463 years ago? Does that seem too long ago or too recent? How about if I said it actually originated in ancient Rome? Does that seem more probable? Now what if I said that in reality, no one knows the origin of April Fools’ Day? What would you believe?

    The reality of this unofficial holiday is that it’s been around for a while, but no one knows exactly how long or how it started. Some theories say it began in ancient Rome as the Hilaria festival, a celebration in late March that involved dressing up and mocking others. Other theories suggest it may be related to the vernal equinox and Mother Nature fooling us with ever-changing and unpredictable spring weather. Yet others suggest it could have started with the medieval Feast of Fools celebration. The most potentially traceable origin, however, goes back to mid-1500s France. This theory is based around the time when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which changed the date of the new year from the spring equinox (around April 1st) to January 1st. The thought is that people who continued to celebrate the old new year were called “April fools” and were the butt of jokes and hoaxes. The most common joke or prank in France would have been to have a paper fish placed on their back and be called a “poisson d’avril,” or “April fish.” These “April fish” were so termed as they were viewed as gullible, and easy to catch, much like the plentiful, and young, literal fish of that season.

    Though the term “poisson d’avril” goes back to at least 1508, the earliest clear reference to April Fools’ Day is actually in a Flemish poem from 1561. Unfortunately for the calendar theory, that is a full 21 years before France officially switched to the Gregorian calendar. Either way, though, the “poisson d’avril” is still an integral part of April Fools’ Day in France, where it is customary to stick a paper fish on someone else’s back, marking them as an “April Fish”.

    By 1686 the holiday had reached English-speaking countries and is referenced in John Aubrey’s book, Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme. By the 1700s the tradition spread throughout Britain, with Scotland particularly embracing the holiday and making it into a 2-day event. Day 1 is “hunting the gowk,” where people get sent on fake errands. Day 2 is “Tailie Day,” where people pin fake tails or “kick me” signs on others. By 1771 it had become known in the U.S. and Canada (as evidenced by a diary entry from that year written by Anna Green Winslow in Boston).

    Some of the Greatest April Fools’ Day Pranks of All Time

    Lion Washing: A few days before April 1st, 1856 Londoners received a seemingly official invitation to the Tower of London to view the annual washing of the lions ceremony. Adding potential credence to this event was the fact that the Tower had housed a menagerie of bears, leopards, lions, etc. for 600 years; however, that had all ended in 1835. Nonetheless, the hoax did successfully draw a number of hopeful, and ultimately disappointed, spectators.

    Great Heist: On April 1st, 1905 a German newspaper announced a fake successful heist of the U.S. Federal Treasury and claimed a public cover-up of the robbery. The news spread quickly before the April Fools’ Day prank was realized.

    Spaghetti Harvest: On April 1st, 1957 a BBC news broadcaster announced that Ticino, an area in southern Switzerland on the Italian border, had had “an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop” that year; this announcement was followed by footage of people picking spaghetti off trees and bushes. Though it might seem silly to believe such a thing now, at that time spaghetti wasn’t a common dish in Britain, and some viewers reportedly asked how they could grow their own spaghetti at home.

    UFO: On March 31, 1989, Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) and his companion Don Cameron flew a hot-air balloon shaped like a flying saucer near London. Though they landed a day early and in the wrong place (they had intended on landing in Hyde Park on the morning of the 1st, but due to weather had to land in Surrey the evening prior), they committed to the stunt and startled police responding to calls about a UFO landing by having the fully silver-clad Don Cameron exit the balloon to greet them.

    Burger King for All: In 1998 Burger King ran a full-page ad in USA Today for their new “Left-Handed Whopper,” claiming that all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees to better accommodate southpaws. People ate it up, with thousands of customers requesting the new burger.

    Google: In 2000 Google played its first, but hardly its last, April Fools’ Day prank. On April 1st of that year, those looking to utilize Google were greeted with the new “MentalPlex” feature that purported to allow users to search the internet by reading their minds.

    Spot The Prank: Are The Following Statements True or False?

    1. Colorado has a festival called “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” which honors Grandpa Bredo, a Norwegian man who was cryogenically frozen after his death in 1989, and then stored in Colorado in a shed that doubled as a makeshift cryogenic facility before eventually being moved to the Stanley Hotel.
    2. The first ever telephone directory was published in February 1808 in Connecticut; it was on a single sheet of cardboard and listed 50 commercial and residential numbers.
    3. Chickens outnumber people in Delaware by 200 to 1.
    4. King Ranch in Texas is the largest ranch in the United States and is larger than the land area of Rhode Island.
    5. Wisconsin has banned the production and sale of margarine since 1895.
    6. Fruit flies were the first animals to be sent into space.
    7. Grasshoppers have only existed for 20,000 years.
    8. Certain termite queens can lay 40,000 eggs per day.
    9. Some biting ant species have historically been medically used as sutures to close wounds.
    10. It was estimated by the biologists Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson in their Pulitzer Prize-winning 1990 book, The Ants, that ants outnumber humans at a ratio of about 500,000 ants per human.

    Check out the end of this article to find out if you were right!

    What Else to Watch Out For On April 1st Besides Pranks

    Though April Fools’ Day kicks off the month of April, the notorious pranks perpetrated by people on this day don’t hold a candle to what nature could be poised to throw at you this month. Not only is it spring, which means that just about every pest is out and multiplying, but it’s also the perfect season for termites to swarm. These destructive pests are no laughing matter, and at the first sign of a potential termite issue, call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 and let our expert technicians keep these pests from making a fool out of you.

    For more information about the damage termites can cause, the signs of a potential termite issue, and suggestions for preventative measures you can take, see our articles: “Termite 101”, “The Truth about Five Common Termite Myths”, “Termites vs. Carpenter Ants”, and “Top 10 Signs of a Termite Infestation”.

    This April, don’t let pests make you feel like a fool, call The Bug Dude at 1-800-310-BUGS (2847) at the first sign of an issue, and get back to enjoying the laughs from this year’s epic April Fools’ Day pranks.

    Further Reading:

    “April Fools’ Day” – History.com Editors, History.com, A&E Television Networks, LLC
    “April Fools’ Day might be the world’s longest-running joke. No one knows how it began” – Jeff Dean, NPR
    “April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition” – Stephen Winick, Library of Congress Blogs
    “9 Outrageous Pranks in History” – Becky Little, History.com, A&E Television Networks, LLC
    “9 Zany April Fools’ Day Hoaxes” – Jennie Cohen, History.com, A&E Television Networks, LLC
    “Gotcha! These are history’s most outrageous April Fools’ jokes” – Becky Little, National Geographic
    “Some of the greatest April Fools’ pranks of all time” – Todd Leopold, CNN
    “50 interesting facts about the 50 US states” – David Szmidt, Kiwi.com
    “Fun Facts About Bugs” – the Department of Systematic Biology, Entomology Section, National Museum of Natural History, in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services; Smithsonian
    “25 Cool Things About Bugs!” – National Geographic Kids
    “20 Startling Facts About Insects” – Adam Hadhazy, LiveScience
    “Fun facts about bugs” – Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 14 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    “Spot the Prank” Answers:

    1. True.
    2. False, it was 1878.
    3. True.
    4. True.
    5. False; it was banned from 1895 to 1967. It is still illegal for a restaurant to serve margarine instead of butter unless the customer requests it.
    6. True.
    7. False, they existed before dinosaurs.
    8. True.
    9. True.
    10. False, it’s about 1.4 million ants per human.

    The Bug Dude Blog