It’s the one day of the year that you need to have your guard up. It’s when you have to question everything you see and even more so what you hear. It’s the day where you have to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity that could make you the fool. Quite the task when you live in South Africa… but let’s not digress.
The origin of the day that tomfoolery is celebrated annually is unclear. Some say it originated from the Canterbury Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, titled The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. It tells the story of the vain rooster, Chauntecler who is repeatedly hoaxed by a fox and subsequently gets close to being eaten. In the tale, Chaucer says the following:
“When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two”
“Syn March bigan thritty days and two” (32 days since March began) would ultimately be the 1st of April. If this was the case, it is the earliest known recorded reference to April Fool’s day. Given the popularity of the tale, it is no surprise that it could have been embraced by people to start playing jokes and hoaxes on each other.
Others believe that when the transition from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar gradually started to take place after 1582, the traditionalists who still celebrated the 1st of April as the beginning of the new year, were called fools for doing so. They got further “picked on” by being sent on fool’s errands or getting tricked into things that weren’t true. The fact that the start of the year was once in April seems like a joke in and of itself, but we’re not going to judge how the folk did things back then.
All we know is that today it has morphed into somewhat of commercial “celebration” where people, and giant corporate companies, would try and outdo each other year on year. Sometimes fantastically so. One of the best that come to mind is the campaign that BMW ran in New Zealand in 2015, a sort of reverse April Fool’s Joke if you will. The luxury carmaker ran an advert in the local paper that said that the first person to bring the coupon, along with their car, to the dealer, can swap it for a new BMW. It seemed to be good to be true for many, as the advert made note of April Fool’s itself, but sure enough, a lucky lady walked away with a brand-new set of wheels, leaving her 15-year-old Nissan Almera with the dealer.
Other times corporates don’t quite hit the mark. There was the infamous Mic-Drop prank by Google that backfired completely, to say the least. Google, known for their extravagant April Fool’s pranks, added the feature to Gmail in 2016 which allowed people to send their email with an animated GIF of a minion dropping a microphone. If that was it, it would probably have been fine. But the feature literally ended the conversation then and there, making for a very rude, unintended conclusion after which the sender didn’t have access, nor could even see the replies. It in turn ended up being the reason for several dismissals and lost job opportunities which left Google with a lot of egg on their face.
As the corporate giants try and outdo each other year on year, it will be interesting to see what the big names come up with this year. And hopefully some South African companies will jump onboard. We, for one, will be waiting in anticipation, as it’s always refreshing to see a human element behind brands.
If you want to get in on the pranking action this year, you don’t need to go to the extreme measures that these companies do, although, it will be pretty cool to gift someone with a new car. Sometimes it can be as simple as unplugging a colleague’s mouse or swapping some of their keys on their keyboards around. If you want to be more elaborate in your pranking though, pop in at The Crazy Store or Party City, where they are sure to have an array of novelty items that could serve as inspiration for your own prank of the year.
Whatever you choose to do on this day of mischief, just remember to not do anyone harm, anything illegal, or anything that is irreversible. But above all else, keep an eye out and an ear on the ground as you could just be the next person to walk away with something as amazing as a brand new car.