Watch your back

The Oracle has decided to end its run as USF’s student newspaper. Wait, just kidding. Happy April Fool’s Day.

Today is April 1, the one day each year where people suspect that a prank or joke will be played on them when they least expect it. Wherever you go today, I bet you will be just a little more aware of those around you.

Many people know that it is “tradition” to play jokes on friends and foes on this day, but those people probably don’t know where the tradition stems from. If you are in the dark about this day of gags, The Oracle is here to educate you on the tradition, provide jokes from the past and provide ideas for you to have fun today.

History & Tradition

No one knows for sure exactly why April Fool’s Day, or All Fool’s Day, is a day on our calendar. However, there is one popular theory: The Western world lived their lives by the Julian calendar. During this time, the New Year was celebrated on April 1. In the 1500s, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, moving the New Year to Jan. 1.

“According to the most widely believed origin for April Fool’s Day, those who could be tricked into believing April 1 was still the proper day to celebrate the New Year earned the sobriquet of April fools,” states, a Web site dedicated to reporting on the facts and fictions of urban legends and myths.

The change in dates originated in France and, as time went on, the tradition of pranks and jokes carried on to other countries. For example, Scotland takes two days to celebrate April Fool’s: The first day is devoted to general pranks and the second day is for jokes that poke fun at a person’s rear end. The classic “kick me” sign actually started in Scotland because of April Fool’s.

According to, a Web site devoted to family entertainment, April Fool’s Day, “developed into an international fun fest, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.”

There is a superstition about this day. It is said that pranks are supposed to end by noon. If they continue past this time, the pranksters will bring bad luck onto themselves. On the other hand, if the victim of the prank does not respond to the joke with humor and amusement, they too are said to bring on bad luck.

“Another myth or superstition is that marriage on April Fools’ Day is not a good idea for a man, for he will be permanently ruled by his wife,” states

Famous Pranks

No one can resist a good practical joke, no matter what the time period. For centuries, people have been playing jokes on others, especially on this day of fun. However, some of the funnier and more creative pranks have been pulled in the 20th century.

In 1957, a news report on the British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) news show Panorama reported a spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. The prank was pulled on those who did not know how spaghetti was made.

“Against a video backdrop of happy peasant women harvesting spaghetti from trees, whimsical claims about the foodstuff’s cultivation were made in a straight-faced manner,” according to Snopes.

“More than 250 viewers jammed the BBC switchboard after the hoax aired, most of them calling in with serious inquiries about the piece.”

In 2004, radio personality Howard Stern played a practical joke on his listeners. Ironically enough, his joke was almost like a prediction for his future on FM radio.

“The show started off with a message stating that due to increased pressure from the FCC, The Howard Stern Show had been cancelled and they played pop songs till around after 9:00 a.m., which Howard came back on and said it was a joke,” according to Wikipedia.

How To Celebrate The Day

If you’ve never played a prank on someone, take a shot today. Granted, many people may be expecting something to happen, but it’s all for fun.

“It’s a fun day where I can play pranks on people. I try to fool everyone and get away with it, at least. If I remember, I try to make it a point every year to do something,” said freshman Brian Chung.

Chung says that if he doesn’t remember that it’s April 1, one of his family members usually reminds him with a prank.

“When everyone in your family gets you, you’re done. It’s almost like a point of duty in my family to get everyone,” he said.

For as long as he could remember, Chung has been playing jokes and having jokes played on him. He does offer some advice for anyone who plans on making the most of this day.

“Make your prank unexpected. Have fun, but don’t scare a person. And don’t take a prank out of proportion, like joking about death. Make it enjoyable where you both can laugh at the end of the joke.”

Freshman Megan Heist experienced a not-so-humorous prank while she was in high school.

“In 11th grade, my friend Kenny came up to me with a sad look and whatnot. I asked him what was up and he said that he had not slept well and had had a rough couple of days. So I asked him why he was so troubled and he said, ‘My dad was diagnosed with cancer.’ He even went to lengths to describe the trip to the hospital, how the family was taking it, when he was getting his tumor removed and when chemo started. A week later, I asked for an update and he goes ‘What? My dad? He doesn’t have cancer, what are you talking about?’ I was so angry.”

Prank Ideas

In this day and age, the ideas for jokes are endless. You can even play jokes on people through their computers. If you want to scare your friends through the Internet, check out or . If you are looking for pranks to play at work, while someone is sleeping or at a restaurant, check out The Prank Institute at .

If you want to give a prank a try and want to start out small, Chung has offered a few examples that are fun and harmless.

“Unplug a person’s cable and put a sound recorder in the back with a static sound. It will look like something from The Ring. Or put dry ice in someone’s room and make a loud noise like a fire alarm.”

Watch your back today because you never know what might happen. Whether you play a traditional prank, come up with something new or just like to watch others fall victim to the fun, have fun and be kind. Happy pranking!