This morning we got a call in our office from a friend who gave us us the news that the Taj Mahal had collapsed in an earthquake in the wee hours of dawn. As soon as we let out shocked gasps we realised that we had all been made fools. For it is April 1 or Fool’s Day today!

Last year, one of India’s most well known TV networks put out a news report that left the viewers speechless. The news was about the first man in the world who was going to have a baby in an Indian hospital.

Those who were watching the news fell off their seats when they saw the scene in a hospital – a man lying in bed and telling the television reporter how happy he was that he was going to have a baby. At the end of the half-hour news programme, the newsreader let out the secret: the interview of the man was a big April Fool joke!!

Smart Ones and Fools [Illustration: R. Shridevi]
Smart Ones and Fools [Illustration: R. Shridevi]

That is what the whole world does on April 1 – try to fool others in a great spirit of mischief. Those who succeed behave like great heroes. Those whose pranks no one believes secretly start planning for a better gag the next year. It’s a day when children and adults alike have a one-point programme of fooling someone or the other. A child may try to bluff a school friend that the school is closed for the day, or change the timetable in a friend’s notebook; an adult may tell his friend that he has just been fired or promoted. The question is, why is April 1 called the Fools Day or the day of hoaxes?

Of course, there is no perfect explanation but many trace this tradition to the fact that more than 400 years ago, Pope Gregory shifted the beginning of the Christian calendar from April 1 to January 1. Some say this shift angered the French people who sent officials on foolish errands to get even. Some say many people continued to celebrate April 1 as New Year’s Day. Others played tricks on them to fool them.

There are those who believe that people kept alive the custom of exchanging gifts on April 1 just to spread confusion about the real beginning of the Christian new year. To this day, children tape paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting victims and gleefully call the fooled person ‘April fish’ – why, nobody knows.

Others think Fool’s Day is similar to the spring festival of Holi celebrated in India in late March. They feel that Fool’s Day is connected to the fact that the weather suddenly changes around this time, taking people by surprise. As spring chases away winter, people get into a merry mood and let loose practical jokes on each other.
Did you play any Fool’s Day pranks on friends? If so, why not share it with us at

497 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 6 (11-12 year old children)
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Filed under: features
Tags: #india, #earthquake, #christians, #spring, #hospitals

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