April Fools' DayApril 1
Observed in much of the Western world on the first day of April of every year, this is recognized as a day for practical jokes and general foolishness. The day is "celebrated" with good humor, hoaxes and practical jokes of varying sophistication.
When France reformed its calendar in 1564, moving New Years from the end of March to January 1, there were some citizens who did not adopt the change, holding onto the older calendar and continuing to celebrate New Years between March 25 and April 1. These stubborn folks had jokes played on them. Pranksters stuck paper fish to their backs and called them Poisson d’Avril, meaning "April Fish."
Hunt the Gowk
In Scotlland, folks have traditionally played tricks and told lies to catch each other out on the first day of April. But the pranks have to stop by mid-day. The phrase "hunt the gowk" refers to sending someone on a foolish errand, or Huntigowk, with the messge:
Dinna laugh, an' dinna smile
But hunt the gowk another mile.
A 'gowk' is another name for the cuckoo, or a silly bird. At each stage in the search for the gowk the message bearer is sent on to another location.
The 2nd of April is known as Tailie Day in Scotland, when paper tails are attached to the backs of unsuspecting people as a joke.
Top April Fools Day Pranks
The Museum of Hoaxes lists the Top 100 April Fools' Day Hoaxes of all time, as judged by notoriety, creativity, and number of people duped. These include:
April Fools Cake Topper
April Fool Beanie Baby
Whoopee Cushion Party Favors