Unlike most of the other nonfoolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear. It is not like Halloween, where despite an interesting history, most people just put on Halloween costumes, get candy, and leave it at that. There really wasn't a "first April Fool's Day" that can be pinpointed on the calendar. Some believe it sort of evolved simultaneously in several cultures at the same time, from celebrations involving the first day of spring.
The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved to January 1.
However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1. These backward folk were labeled as "fools" by the general populace. They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.
This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank-playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century. It was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and French. April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.
Pranks performed on April Fool's Day range from the simple, (such as saying, "Your shoe's untied, or I accidentally stepped on your glasses!), to the elaborate. Setting a roommate's alarm clock back an hour is a common gag. Whatever the prank, the trickster usually ends it by yelling to his victim, "April Fool!"
Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day. The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees.
April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their "significant other" out to eat in a fancy restaurant. Nobody gets off work or school. It's simply a fun little holiday, but a holiday on which one must remain forever vigilant, for he may be the next April Fool!
Okay, this is probably more than ANYONE wanted to know about April Fool's Day. So here's some ideas on how to have a bit of fun!
Toilet Trouble: Put a piece of bubblewrap under the toilet seat so when your victim sits, they are surprised by a loud POP!
You Spilled What: Find an old bottle of nail polish that you don't want anymore. Unscrew the cap and set it sideways on a piece of waxed paper, letting the contents flow out into a puddle. When it dries completely, peel it off of the paper. Now you can put it anywhere and trick someone into thinking there is spilled nail polish. Works best on something your victim cherishes or on one of their important documents!
Forgetful: Tape magnets to the bottom of an empty coffee cup, and attach it to the top of your car. Laugh at all the people who frantically try to get your attention as you drive by.
Two Black Eyes: Put a dark substance around the eyepiece of a pair of binoculars (we recommend dark eye-shadow instead of the black shoe polish used in the classic prank of yesteryear). Hand them to your victim and point out something for them to look at in the distance. Then laugh at the dark circles around their eyes.
The Walls Have Eyes: Buy a bunch of googly eyes from a craft store and stick them everywhere all over a person's desk.