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What’s the Story Behind April Fools?

Posted by Andrew Addotta on

So...April is a big month around here.

First of all, it’s our business anniversary—we opened up shop on April 8, 2017. Clark’s birthday is on April 29. We’ll even celebrate the 13-year anniversary of our relationship. 

And of course, there’s April Fools Day. Which got us thinking: where did April Fools come from, anyway? Who decided to start pranking people on the first day of April? And with so many other traditions falling by the wayside, why do we still hold on to this one? 

So we thought we’d do a little research. And...as far as we can tell, the origins of April Fools are a little murky. 

There’s some evidence of people observing April Fools in the Middle Ages. But the first clear reference in English is from 1686, when John Aubrey referred to a “Fooles holy day.” (There’s also some evidence of an April 1 prank at the Tower of London in 1698, by which point the custom seems to have taken hold across England.) 

But April Fools Day really took on its modern shape in the mid-twentieth century, when mass media made it possible to fool large numbers of people with outrageous stories based on sham evidence. 

One of the best examples is the BBC’s famous “spaghetti harvest” segment from April 1, 1957, when a poker-faced newscaster reported on “an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop” in the Swiss town of Ticino.  

After the segment aired, viewers from across Britain clamored for information about how they could grow their own spaghetti at home. 

So why is April Fools still a thing? Well, if you think about it, a prank is just another form of storytelling, and everybody loves a story. Most of us enjoy illusions and trickery, as long as nobody’s actually getting hurt. (Isn’t that what movies are all about?) And in a way, we’re all pretty eager to believe in something—anything!—even if it’s just a silly segment about spaghetti on the BBC.

Here at Hamilton & Adams, our approach to April Fools is a little more straightforward: we don’t want to prank you. We just want to clear out some of our holiday and winter items before the warm weather hits. So this April, be on the lookout for one of our biggest sales events of the year, with many items priced to move. 

And...when April 1 comes around? Maybe double-check your sources before believing everything you see, hear, or read. (In fact, you should probably be doing that anyway.) Especially if people start telling you that pasta grows on trees. 

Prankishly yours,

Andrew + Clark

Missed our last post about What's in Store for Spring?  Read it here.

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