April Fool’s Day – Then and Now

To all the pranksters out there, April Fool’s is your day – playing practical jokes on friends, possibly even scaring the living daylights out of them! But how much do you really know about April Fools’?

This day has uncertain origins. Some say that it was a celebration of the turn of the seasons, embodying a “rebirth” in nature with the coming of Spring; while others say that it was due to the adoption of a new calendar by mainly the Romans and the Hindus. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to replace the Julian calendar, celebrating New Year’s Day on the 1st of January, as we know it today. Back in the 16th century, many people either refused to accept this change or weren’t informed about it, continuing to celebrate New Year’s on the 1st of April during the vernal equinox. Those who did know about it began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on ‘fool’s errands’ and tricking them in other ways. Eventually, this idea of ‘tricking’ spread throughout Europe, and now it’s a day many comedians look forward to.

The oldest recorded example of an April Fool’s joke can be found in 1698 in London.  Residents were invited to attend a ceremonial event called “The Washing of the Lions” that was going to take place in the moat under the Tower of London.  The whole thing was a joke of course but it drew such a crowd that the prank ended up becoming a staple activity on April Fool’s Day and it was repeated year after year well into the 1800s.

Some pranks nowadays include:

  • Placing fake insects in a person’s room and simply waiting for that ear-piercing shrill of a scream to know that the prank has been successfully completed (I should know – my own brother loved to do this when we were kids).
  • The classic jumping out from behind somewhere and scaring them out of their senses (again – something my brother did, and still does a lot. Yes, I scare easy).
  • The old-fashioned prank, inspired by the Von Trapp children from Sound of Music: placing a pine cone on someone’s chair.
  • Covering someone’s car completely with little post-it notes (that will keep them occupied for the next hour at least!).

It’s not the first time that the media has gotten in on the act as well.  This time last year, an article was circulated saying that our much-loved Maltese ‘pastizzi’ would not be sold anymore. This nationwide prank shook every Maltese person to their core, some even getting the typical dramatic Maltese personalities out on show and raging at the possibility! Who knows, maybe this year ‘ftajjar’ won’t be sold anymore! (Touch wood).


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Jillian Mallia

I'm a 20 year old student reading for a B.A. (Hons) in English with Communication Studies (quite a mouthful right?) I love dancing, sushi, and I'm a Potterhead. I started penning my ideas fairly recently, which turned into poetry, and later evolved into prose pieces and opinionated views. Caution: don't tickle me - you're asking for a bloody nose if you do. You've been warned.

Latest posts by Jillian Mallia (see all)

Jillian Mallia

I'm a 20 year old student reading for a B.A. (Hons) in English with Communication Studies (quite a mouthful right?) I love dancing, sushi, and I'm a Potterhead. I started penning my ideas fairly recently, which turned into poetry, and later evolved into prose pieces and opinionated views. Caution: don't tickle me - you're asking for a bloody nose if you do. You've been warned.