April Fools’ Day: The time to act childishly and have some fun

Article by Neelima Choahan  /
The Age  /
April 1, 2017  /
Click here to view original  /

Love playing the fool?

Miss those childhood days when you concocted pranks to trick your friends, or even better, your sibling on April Fools’ Day?

The day that was so much fun until you became the victim?

Don’t worry (be happy) because it is not just the young who can take part in this annual day of levity.

As Melbourne University’s senior social scientist Lauren Rosewarne says, April 1 is your passport  to act a “little childishly”. 

“It is an annual day, like Halloween, that has a connotation of frivolity and fun,” Dr Rosewarne says. 

“There is almost a unofficial sanctioned opportunity … to be a bit goofy, with some sort of endorsement from the calender.”

April Fools’ Day, lesser known as All Fools’ Day, is celebrated every year on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes.

The victims are called April fools.

According to Wikipedia, that trusted font of all knowledge, it was Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, written in the 1300s, that made the first recorded link between April 1 and foolishness.

But don’t believe everything you read – at least not on April Fools’ Day – because according to another Melbourne professor, and Chaucer expert, Stephanie Trigg said that story may well be just another hoax.

“There’s a strong suggestion that Chaucer was the first to make the connection between St Valentine and love,” Professor Trigg says.

“But there’s nothing there about the April Fool’s tradition.”

Dr Rosewarne says in contemporary culture, corporates have adopted the day to “manifest their business” or just use some “clever marketing”. 

She says the day is unique because it has an informal role and has no public holiday or ritual attached to it.

“It is more of an ad hoc celebration,” Dr Rosewarne says.

“Even if you are not an actual participant there is extensive news coverage about what corporates have done and that is sort of another excuse for sort of vicarious pranking.”

But beware if you are planning to actually take part and bring the fun to the office.

Dr Rosewarne says most offices would now frown upon any such activities, in an increasingly litigious society.

But despite that, the day’s basic nature of fun has helped it survive through the years. 

“There is no political underpinning which sours things like Australia Day. There is no historical memories that might dampen things like Anzac Day,” Dr Rosewarne says. 

“It is purely a noteworthy day on the calender that is about being stupid. And Australians love that.”