Why do people like to fool each other — or at least try to — on the first day of April? No one really knows for sure, but it’s one of the most enduring unofficial holidays, celebrated (or in some cases, barely tolerated
) in dozens of countries. And for whatever reason, the technology world is even more fond of this holiday than probably any other. In this post, we’ve collected some of our favorite pranks and bogus news stories from today for your amusement — if you come across any that you particularly enjoyed, feel free to add them in the comments.
But before we get started, it’s worth noting that one of the biggest April Fools’ jokes of all time might be the day itself. No one can seem to agree on how or why it became popular. One theory is that it started with the change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582
, which moved New Year’s Day from the last week of March to January. Those who continued to celebrate in March (a celebration that usually lasted until April 1) were called April Fools. The only problem with that theory is that there are references to the idea of April and fools that pre-date the change to the Gregorian calendar.
Another theory is that it started with the Persian tradition of playing pranks on people on the 15th day of the New Year’s celebration of Norouz, which usually falls on April 1 and is known as Sizdah Bedar. This tradition apparently goes back to 536 B.C. And to make things extra-confusing, plenty of countries celebrate something like April Fools’ on other days
— like the 28th of December. If you want to see what April Fool was like in 1861 in the United States, check out this fascinating post from the NYT
And now, on to the monkeyshines, drollery and shenanigans:
If geekish pranks are your thing, the site Hacker News is collecting them
, including a new product that acts like AdBlock in real life: a pair of goggles that remove advertising
from whatever you’re looking at. And even Wikipedia has gotten into the April Fools’ Day game — but what appear to be fake articles are actually links to factual information that isn’t really what it seems
, like the fact that Batman is half female