May 30, 2023



The exact origin of April Fool’s Day is unknown although popular theory is that the pranking began in the late 1500s. It was at this time that the majority of Europe changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar; this change meant the start of a new year was moved from the beginning of April to the beginning of January. It took a few years for this change to catch on, however, and those who forgot about the change and celebrated the new year at the beginning of April were referred to as “April fools.”

This eventually led to people playing tricks and pranks on the “April fools” and that evolved into the April Fool’s Day we know today.

April Fool’s is celebrated differently in different parts of the world. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Scotland celebrates Gowkie Day on April 1. Gowk is a Scottish word meaning cuckoo or fool. On this day “kick me” signs are pinned to friend’s backs. In France and some parts of French-speaking Canada, it is common to find children taping paper fish to each other’s back and then shouting “poisson d’avril,” (April fish). In Denmark and Sweden they celebrate “joking day” twice, both on April 1 and again on May 1.

April Fool’s pranks are generally simple and quick to execute. Some popular pranks include placing plastic wrap over the toilet bowl, underneath the seat, causing anyone who uses the toilet to have a big mess on their hands. Another easy prank involves opening a door slightly and then placing a cup full of confetti on the top edge of the door. When someone opens it the confetti will fall all over them.

Some pranks start out simple but get taken to extremes. A common but extreme office prank is to cover an entire desk or office in Post-It notes. Alternatively, leftover holiday wrapping paper could be used to wrap each individual item on a co-worker’s desk. Office pranking can be taken even further by setting desk items such as staplers inside of Jell-O or even planting sprouts inside of a keyboard.

Graham Farber is a Guelph resident and self-proclaimed pranking expert.

“I’ve pulled lots of April Fool’s Day pranks in my day, but my favourite reaction ever happened when I was in elementary school. A few friends and I brought some food colouring to school and while this one girl wasn’t looking we turned her milk green. She screamed like crazy. It was so funny,” Farber said.

Ally Moffat, a Conestoga first-year early childhood education student, also has tons of experience both being the victim and the prankster of April Fool’s jokes.

“When I was little my sister would lay under my bed while I was putting my shoes on. She would wait five minutes then grab my feet and scare me super bad. ”

Moffat said one of the pranks she used to play involved a penny and a pencil.

“You take a penny and roll it down the centre of your face on its edge. Take another penny and colour in pencil along the edge, then hand it to a friend and bet them they can’t run the penny down their own face, when they do, they will have a pencil line running down their face,” Moffat said.