April Fools’ Day has been part of our culture for centuries, perhaps most famously with newspapers and PR agencies rolling out ‘fake news’ each year in a bid to dupe the public. But we’re not the only ones in the world to get silly on the first of April. Here are a few other April Fools’ traditions from around the world
France & Italy
The children of France and Italy celebrate the first of April by going about trying to attach a paper fish to someone’s back, without getting caught. In France the day is called ‘Poisson d’Avril’, and in Italy, ‘Pesce d’Aprile’ – both of which translate as “April Fish”.
The Brazilians have opted for a similar approach to the UK, with people playing pranks and telling white lies to try and trick one another – even news outlets get in on the act by putting out fake headlines! Here, the first of April has been rightfully named ‘Dia da Mentira’, which translates as “Day of the Lie”.
The Greeks not only use this day to try out their best pranks, but have also surrounded it in superstition. Here it’s commonly believed that a successful prank means year-long good luck or healthy crops. There is even a murmur that any rain that falls on the first of April has healing abilities.
The Scots call the first of April ‘Hunt the Gowk Day’ (gowk meaning ‘cuckoo’ or ‘fool’) and spend it pranking and hoaxing to their hearts’ content. It doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either – the second of April is known as ‘Tailie Day’ and bears the tradition of people tagging tails to each other’s backs.
In Poland, you will likely hear the phrase “Prima Aprilis, uważaj, bo się pomylisz!”, which means “First of April, be careful, you can be wrong!” Like many other countries the Poles play pranks on each other and even public institutions tend to get involved. It is said that the anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I, which was originally signed on April 1st 1683, was backdated to the 31st March for this very reason.