CRAIG BROWN: Six amazing facts about April Fool's Day
CRAIG BROWN: The day Donald Trump thought Mars had attacked… six amazing facts about April Fool’s Day
1 April Fool’s Day is an annual custom consisting of pranks and hoaxes. Its origins are subject to debate.
Some believe its etymology derives from ‘April Foals’, a reference to the disproportionate number of horses born on or around April 1.
Others think the term originated in the 13th century, from a dish known as an April Fool, consisting of fruit mixed with whipped cream. Towards the end of medieval banquets, these ‘April Fools’ were thrown in the faces of those judged the most stupid people around the table.
2 Many countries celebrate different versions of the April Fool’s tradition.
In St Petersburg, Russia, an April Fool is chosen by a secret committee appointed by the president. He or she is then tossed from the Palace Bridge into the River Neva. If they survive, they are pulled out, given a paper crown and a penny whistle, and then tossed in again.
Last year, on April 1, 2020, President Trump’s youngest son, Barron, then aged 14, surprised his father by informing him over breakfast that Fox News had just reported a small invasion of Martians (file image)
In St Petersburg (pictured), Russia, an April Fool is chosen by a secret committee appointed by the president
For the past two hundred years, a memorial on Vasilyevsky Island in the Neva delta to all the deceased April Fools has been a place of national pilgrimage.
3 For well over 500 years, members of the Royal Family have celebrated the ancient custom.
In his diary, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer narrates how, on ‘Avril Phules Day’ 1544, ‘our King doth play a merrie jeste on Queen Kateryn’ — Catherine Parr, the King’s sixth wife — ‘convincing her that he had growne tyred of her and she would therefore undergo a swift beheading afore noon.
‘To his credit, His Majesty donned a straight face throughout, ensuring my good ladye was overcome with distress, begging his mercy and pledging to make her conversation more lively in the years ahead.
‘After ten minutes of muche merriment, His Majesty could contain himself no longer and explayned that it was but a merry jest. So my good ladye collapsed on the floor, giving thanks.
‘The King was all a-chuckle for the rest of the day.’
4 The Royal April Fool tradition continues to this day. But from time to time a royal prank strikes a wrong note.
Last year, for instance, a leading member of the Royal Family invited the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (pictured) for dinner at Highgrove
Last year, for instance, a leading member of the Royal Family invited the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for dinner at Highgrove. Before their arrival, the unnamed royal hid a whoopee cushion beneath the Duchess’s seat.
‘I was profoundly upset,’ Meghan confessed to Oprah Winfrey in a section of their interview that has yet to be broadcast. ‘It was a cruel and thoughtless gesture. Where was the love? Where was the compassion?’
Three days ago, the Sussexes announced that their Archewell Foundation would be lending its support to a worldwide ban on whoopee cushions ‘for the good of all, and the continued well-being of our planet’.
5 A fast-growing body of scientific evidence suggests that some members of the animal kingdom try to hoax one another on or around April 1.
At Whipsnade Zoo on April Fool’s Day in 2017, a keeper reported that, in an attempt to scare its fellow birds, a flamingo had dressed up as a kangaroo and had begun hopping about.
In 2019, wildlife rangers in the Sumatran rainforest observed a group of orangutans walking around in jackets and ties, pretending to be a delegation from the World Wildlife Fund. Then, at the stroke of noon, they returned to the trees, emitting high-pitched cackling noises.
In 2020, the owner of a private aquarium in Maidstone, Kent, reported that one of his goldfish had taped a triangular piece of plastic to its back, so as to look like a shark, and was swimming around making a ‘da-da, da-da, dadadadada’ noise, recognisable as the theme tune of Jaws
In 2020, the owner of a private aquarium in Maidstone, Kent, reported that one of his goldfish had taped a triangular piece of plastic to its back, so as to look like a shark, and was swimming around making a ‘da-da, da-da, dadadadada’ noise, recognisable as the theme tune of Jaws.
The prank had proved so successful that an angelfish and a guppy had both attempted to leap out of the tank in search of somewhere safe.
6 Last year, on April 1, 2020, President Trump’s youngest son, Barron, then aged 14, surprised his father by informing him over breakfast that Fox News had just reported a small invasion of Martians.
The President’s immediate reaction was to call an emergency meeting of his National Security Council. He also tweeted, ‘Iminent [sic] Martian invasion and dozy Democrats doing nothing to stop them!!! Let’s BUILD THAT WALL!!!’
At noon, Melania Trump took her husband to one side and revealed it was an April Fool. Barron Trump has not been seen in public since.
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