Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — There are many things that separate people, but the human desire to perform small and funny tricks knows no bounds.
As such, April Fools’ Day has a surprisingly global history as a day dedicated to the practice of mild deception. For some cultures, not just a single day in April opens the floodgates to hilarious multi-seasonal mayhem.
It is interesting to see how other countries celebrate, and take inspiration from them out of caution, of course, that you are not safe from not being touched by the “April Fools”.
In France, they scare you with fish
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While the origins of April Fools’ Day remain unknown, historians are pretty sure that its roots go back to the ancient Romans, Western Europeans, and the British Isles.
In France, there is an old tradition of sticking papers with fish on them on the backs of others, as if they were intended to “kick me” higher. This little bit of mischief is accompanied by the phrase “Poisson d’Avril,” which, of course, means “April Fish,” as one French site noted.
Interestingly, fish is considered a symbol of luck in many parts of the world, and is important in many New Year’s traditions. One dubious theory is that when France switched from the Julian calendar to the current Gregorian calendar in the 15th century AD, people thought it would be funny to celebrate the old New Year’s Day, “and make fun of the people who forgot to change.” And it was this day, that old New Year’s Day…the first of April.
In Latin America, the chances of being scammed are lower
Many Latin American countries celebrate “El Dia de los Inocentes,” or “Day of the Innocents,” a Catholic holiday in late December that has somehow become a day of jokes and pranks. So for those cultures, the day to pay attention falls on December 28th. However, in Brazil, April 1 is still a favorite day of pranks, and they call it “Dia das Mentiras” or “Lying Day”.
In one part of Spain they are having a food fight
In Ipe, Alicante, Spain celebrate “El Dia de los Inocentes” (also known as April Fool’s Day in December) with a city-wide food fight, complemented by military strategy and historical lore. The “Els Enfarinats” tradition is said to be more than 200 years old and involves a mock military “takeover” of the city, whereby new rulers can set bizarre laws that others have to abide by. If they don’t, they will be “fined” and the money will go to charity.
In Iran, old professionals
Credit: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Iran can boast of one of the oldest April Fools’ Day traditions with its adherence to Sizdah Bedar, which also contains a joking element. It is celebrated on the 13th day of the Persian new year, i.e. on April 1 or 2. The celebration of Sizdah Bedar, said to date back to the 5th century B.C., translates as “getting rid of the 13th”, so it is surrounded by an appropriate air of superstition. It is also considered a festival of spring, which is related to some predecessors of April Fool’s Day, such as the ancient Roman celebration of Hilaria.
In Scotland it is overdone
Isn’t one day enough for April Fool’s Day? Historically, in Scotland, they extended the torture/celebrations by two days. First, there’s Hunt the Gowk Day. Gowk is a term referring to a type of bird, but it colloquially means “foolish”. On this day, prankster Scots send people, not birds, to do clumsy tasks just to waste their time. If you don’t get cheated, there’s always a chance of being humiliated the next day, which is Tailie Day. It is a largely harmless prank on a person’s backside, such as pinning a tail on someone or tagging their back.
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