Friend fooling friend. Nation fooling nation. A day to shatter the trust it took 364 days to build. Today we’re taking a look at some of the best April Fools from around the world, where the prankery crosses oceans and transcends nationalities. These are the great international April Fools.
The San Serriffe Islands (London)
On April 1st 1977 the Guardian printed a travel supplement to celebrate the tenth anniversary of San Serriffe’s independence – an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Curiously, San Serriffe’s two islands of Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse make up the shape of a semicolon when viewed on the map. Attractions include the port of Garamondo, the Ampersand Quartet and the government’s Asterisk Building, along with the beautiful sweeping bay of Gill Sands to the south that culminates in the Thirty Point Peninsula.
Many readers were completely sold on this dream holiday destination. This was a time before the advent of PCs and desktop publishing, so the printer’s terms that made up the map were lost on many readers. Some readers got the joke though, and even sent letters in about their wonderful holidays in San Serriffe. Others were less amused – the Guardian also received letters of complaint from travel companies, whose eager customers refused to believe that their new perfect holiday destination didn’t actually exist.
A Cure for the Y2K bug (Singapore)
Remember the colossal panic when we approached the year 2000? That the world’s electronics and computer systems would reset to zero, and Earth would suddenly grind to a halt? It was a problem that had some of the world’s foremost computing experts biting their nails and scratching their heads – sometimes simultaneously.
Until, that is, the Singapore Straits Times reported that one 17-year-old high schooler had come up with a computer program to fix the Y2K bug in half an hour flat, while he was working on some algebra homework. On April 1st actually, so there was plenty of time to implement the new program before the impending crisis. Cue much relieved sighing and mopping of brows – until it dawned on readers that the name of the bug-fixing program, Polo Flair, was an anagram of April Fool. Back to that looming dread of the impending millennium, then…
April Fools’ origins (Boston, USA)
In 1983 Joseph Boskin, professor of history at Boston University, explained the ancient origins of April Fool’s Day in an article printed by the Associated Press. He explained that around 300 AD, a group of court jesters once told Emperor Constantine that they could do a better job of ruling the empire than him. Constantine liked the idea so much that he made one of the jesters, Kugel, king for a day. Kugel decreed that it should be a day of absurdity, and it became a popular tradition with the public every April 1st after that. It was the day of the court fool, the Fool’s Day.
Professor Boskin made the whole thing up, of course. It was only a couple of weeks later, when several different newspapers had printed the story as truth, that the penny dropped. So we can’t even trust the wise professors of the world to tell us the truth about April Fool’s Day.
Tombs, towers, penguins and lottery tickets
There have been a great many corkers all over the world to get in on the April Fool’s high jinx. The Tomb of Socrates was supposedly discovered in 1995 beneath the Acropolis, on an excavation dig for the Athens metro system. A French news agency published the story right away… and then had to issue a retraction on the article, when the Greek Ministry of Culture apologised for the prank.
The Parisien once reported that the Eiffel Tower was being dismantled and moved to a new spot at Euro Disney, much to France’s collective horror. The London Times announced in 1992 that Belgium was being divided in half based on language barriers. Japan has since gone all-out in recent years with reports of man-sized giant penguins in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo, the issuing of lottery tickets instead of pension payments, and even government robots being built to replicate the anime character Astro Boy.
Early April is a beautiful time of the year in a lot of cruise destinations around the world, and you can give us a call free to find out more about our range of spring bookings for this year and next. But wherever you are in the world this April 1st, just make sure that your Fool-o-Meter is set all the way to ten. It’s tricksy out there.
Why not tell us your favourite April Fools ideas in the comments section below? We’d love to read them, especially since we’re all on the lookout for ideas in time for tomorrow…
Images courtesy of Guardian/Diana, Flickr; Alex Clark, Flickr; Giotto/Wikipedia; Vatican Museum/Jastrow. Feature image courtesy of MadlyInLoveWithLife, Flickr/Photopin.