Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools

Ha! Ha! Ha! April Fools!

            Widely accepted as the annual date to play jokes and pranks on people, April 1 used to be akin to New Year's Eve, according to one theory on the origin of April Fool's Day. Many people in Europe exchanged gifts and celebrated the New Year on April 2.  In the year 1582, the Gregorian calendar was introduced and New Year's Day moved to January 1. Without rapid communications like today, many people were slow to discover the change or adopt it, and people in the know would make fun of and play jokes on those who forgot or simply did not accept it. Others speculate is has something to do with the change of seasons.
            Though not a public holiday anywhere in the world, the day has taken on a life of its own and grown in popularity. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer references the first known recorded association between foolishness and April 1. Radio, television, newspapers and even websites are in on the action. Some of the memorable hoaxes on the public include:
Ø  1957, BBC broadcast a film of Swiss farmers picking fresh spaghetti in a Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. They were inundated with calls from people wanting to know where and how to buy a spaghetti plant. BBC Spaghetti prank
Ø  1962, Sweden's one black-and-white television station's alleged technical expert, Kjell Stensson, showed viewers how to change their picture from black and white to color by covering the screen with a nylon stocking. Transcript of broadcast
Ø  1989, Londoners reported an alien spaceship landing on the outskirts of the city. Sir Richard Branson had the hot air balloon crafted to look like a spaceship he planned to set down on April 1 in London's Hyde Park. The wind current took him off course and forced him to land one day early. One policeman ran away when the door opened and the silver-suited Branson emerged. UFO over London
Ø  2004, DJs on a Portland, Ore., radio station convinced some gullible listeners they could be fined up to $150 for not having dogs, cats or ferrets buckled in seat belts. Radio pet prank
Ø  2009, Swiss Tourism Board released a video about the Association of Swiss Mountain Cleaners that kept the Alps looking pristine day after day. Some 30,000 people went online to take the qualifying test to become a mountain cleaner. Association of Swiss Mountain Cleaners
Ø  2012, On the Medieval Manuscripts Blog, the British Library published that it found a long-lost medieval cookbook with a recipe for how to cook a unicorn. "Taketh one unicorne," began the instructions, and then marinade it in cloves and garlic before finally roasting it on a griddle. Unicorn cookbook
            And there is the ... no joke ... health benefit and stress reducer of laughter. Belly laughs and general playfulness are good for people, yet others find the day creepy, hoping they don't fall for something and be laughed at or made into a joke. In a 1950s study, folklore researchers Iona and Peter Opie found the British version of pulling pranks on others to end at mid-day or noon, and the person playing a joke in the afternoon or evening became the fool.
            There's no shortage of fools on April Fool's or All Fool's Day and some go on "fool errands" having received an invitation to a non-existent party or event. The fine folks at Bin There Dump That won't make fools of you, however. They are honest, professional, helpful and downright fun to work with when you have a serious clean-out or clean-up project. Keep that in mind as spring cleaning rounds the bend.

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