April Fools: How It’s Celebrated

It’s April Fools Day next week! On the 1st April every year, April Fools Day is celebrated across the world. From silly jokes, to elaborate fake stories, the world has a day of fun!

It’s a bit of an unusual celebration as the reason for it is actually unknown. Some say it was originally to celebrate Renewal Festivals, dating back to Roman times. The festivals would celebrate the start of a new year, which could be due to the start of nature beginning to grow again. Others believe that the tradition started in 1582 when France started to use the Gregorian calendar rather than the Julian one. This meant that the New Year was celebrated on 1st January, rather than 1st April. It is said that many people didn’t hear about the change and continued to celebrate the New Year in April and they were consequently subject to hoaxes and jokes.

Despite not knowing the reason for celebrating and its origins, this day is often a day of funny practical jokes. In this blog, we’re going to have a look at how countries around the world celebrate this day!


The tradition in Scotland is actually a 2-day event. 1st April is known as Hunt the Gowk Day, where gowk translates to cuckoo. The prank is, in a way, a wild goose chase. People would prank others by sending them on pointless tasks. For example, they may be asked to deliver a letter asking someone for their help. The recipient would say they would if the messenger asks someone else first. This continues until the Gowk realises that they are being pranked. The next day is known as Tailie Day. This is because one of the main jokes is pinning a sign on someone’s back saying kick me.


The day is called Le Poisson d’Avril in France, translating to April Fish. People eat fish-shaped chocolate and also tape fish-shaped paper to their friends’ backs. They will then shout Possion d’avril. This day started out particularly fishy as pranksters in the 15th century would stick real fish to the back of victims without them knowing.


Första April is also full of various pranks, but instead of shouting April Fools, they would shout “April, April, din dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill!” which means “April, April, you stupid herring, I can trick you wherever I want!”


It’s also said that April Fools Day may have actually originated in Germany. In the 1860’s, a man named Gabriel Hoffman decided to play a prank on lawmakers. On 1st April, he arranged a meeting, which turned out to be a rouse. The prank was a success and the Germans adopted the tradition. However, it’s bad luck to play any pranks after 12pm.


April Fools Day in Portugal is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before lent. Be wary if you find yourself here at this time, as it’s a tradition to throw flour over unsuspecting victims.


April Fools Day in the US usually involves news outlets and large companies being quite creative with their marketing. Most often create rather elaborate news stories. Some of them are actually quite believable.


In Poland the day is also celebrated by playing a variety of jokes and pranks. It’s known as Prima Aprillis and there is a popular Polish rhyme which says: “Prima Aprilis – uważaj, bo się pomylisz!” – which means, “April Fools’ Day, be careful, you can be wrong.”

April Fools Day is celebrated in some weird and wonderful ways around the world. This type of cultural event is important to know about when translating content, especially since different countries celebrate it in different ways.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the various types of April Fools celebrations. If you’d like to read about other international celebrations, why not take a read of our Summer Solstice Festivities blog? What’s your favourite April Fools prank? Let us know via our Twitter or LinkedIn page.